The Princeton Guide to Ecology

By Simon A. Levin | Go to book overview

V.7
Restoration Ecology
Richard J. Hobbs
OUTLINE
1. What is restoration ecology?
2. Concepts in restoration ecology
3. Key steps in ecological restoration
4. Repairing damaged ecosystem processes
5. Directing vegetation change: succession and assembly rules
6. Fauna and restoration
7. Landscape-scale restoration
8. Prevention versus restoration
Restoration ecology is the science underpinning the practice of repairing damaged ecosystems. Restoration ecology has developed rapidly over the latter part of the twentieth century, drawing its concepts and approaches from an array of sources, including ecology, conservation biology, and environmental engineering. We are faced with an increasing legacy of ecosystems that have been damaged by past and present activities, and it is increasingly recognized that, in many situations, successful conservation management will need to include some restoration. This may take many different forms, such as the reintroduction of particular species, removal of problem species such as weeds or feral animals, or the reinstatement of particular disturbance regimes (including fire and flood regimes).
GLOSSARY
alternative stable state. A relatively stable ecosystem structure or composition that is different from what was present before disturbancedisturbance. Episodic destruction or removal of ecosystem componentsresilience. The ability of an ecosystem to recover following disturbancerestoration. The process of assisting the recovery of an ecosystem that has been degraded, damaged, or destroyedsuccession. The process of vegetation development following disturbance, often characterized by relatively predictable sequences of species replacement over timethreshold. A situation where there has been a nonlinear (i.e., sudden or stepped) change in the ecosystem in response to a stress or disturbance, which is often difficult to reverse
1. WHAT IS RESTORATION ECOLOGY?
Restoration ecology is the science behind the term ecological restoration, which covers a range of activities involved with the repair of damaged or degraded ecosystems and is usually carried out for one of the following reasons:
1. To restore highly disturbed, but localized sites, such as mine sites.
2. To improve productive capability in degraded production lands.
3. To enhance nature conservation values in protected landscapes.
4. To restore ecological processes over broad landscape-scale or regional areas.

Ecological restoration occurs along a continuum, from the rebuilding of totally devastated sites to the limited management of relatively unmodified sites, and hence merges with conservation biology. Restoration aims to return the degraded system to a less degraded state that is valuable for conservation or other use and that is sustainable in the long term.

An array of terms has been used to describe these activities, including restoration, rehabilitation, reclamation, reconstruction, and reallocation. Generally, restoration has been used to describe the complete reassembly of a degraded system to its undegraded state complete with all the species previously present, whereas rehabilitation describes efforts to develop some sort of functional or productive system on a degraded site. In addition, some authors use the term reallocation to describe the transfer of a site from one land use

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