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  • Cited by 3
  • Print publication year: 1999
  • Online publication date: February 2010

15 - Restoration ecology

Summary

Restoration has the goal of returning an ecosystem to a desired, more natural state after human disturbance. Setting this goal is different from restoration science itself. Scientists rarely choose the goals for restorations, which are generally determined in some political process, hopefully with the input of scientists who can advise which goals are feasible. The restoration scientist is then asked: how do we achieve this goal? The design and implementation of a plan for attaining the goal is the actual science of restoration ecology. Often experiments will be necessary to determine whether components of a proposed plan will work. For example, will creating gaps in a forest allow coexistence of a large number of native tree species? Will the gaps help keep non-native species in check, or help them further their invasion? Restoration ecology is fundamentally an interdisciplinary field and restoration ecologists draw knowledge from disturbance ecology, population biology of plant and animals, and soil science among others.

Restoration of forests also brings interactions with silviculturalists and timber harvesters. This has two implications for a forest restorationist. First, the science of restoration ecology bridges the boundary between basic and applied science. The restorationist has to know basic biology, which must be applied to direct ecosystem development towards a specific outcome. Second, forest restoration also bridges the boundary between preservation of natural areas and production forestry. In most forests of the world, only a small portion of the landscape is reserved from timber harvest. Therefore, maintenance of biodiversity may require the restoration of natural processes and species outside of nature reserves, while allowing for a flow of forest products.