of the most significant changes in recent history is the transformed
relationship between humans and their environment. Widespread realization
that natural systems are precious and limited has begun to change
our values towards the world around us. In particular, there is
higher awareness about how our behaviour and actions can degrade
the health and integrity of sensitive and valuable ecosystems. One
response to concern for the environment is to prevent ecological
damage in the first place. The other answer is ecological restoration,
to repair what damage has occurred.
We abuse land because we regard it as a commodity belonging to us.
When we see land as a community to which we belong, we may begin
to use it with love and respect.
- Aldo Leopold, in "A Sand
County Almanac" (1949)
document gives guidance on developing and implementing restoration
projects. These guidelines are designed to inform and guide groups
undertaking restoration programs, regardless of funding source or
type of project. Because every restoration site is different, the
emphasis is on identifying important components common to all restoration
projects, and on providing suggestions for finding resources and
developing project-specific plans. By using these guidelines, your
group will be able to set appropriate and measurable restoration
goals, and develop a restoration plan that will define short- and
long-term activities. Developing these restoration goals and plans
will not only make for a sound project, but will also assist in
obtaining restoration funding.
of Ecological Restoration
of nature conservation and restoration can be traced back to classical
Greece, modern ideas of ecological restoration are built on the
writings of Henry David Thoreau, George Perkins Marsh, and Aldo
Leopold. The first restoration projects began in Wisconsin in the
1930's, under Leopold's direction (Gayton 2001).
The aim of ecological restoration is to fully restore the components
and processes of a damaged site or ecosystem to a previous historical
state, to a contemporary standard, or towards a desired future condition
In more recent times, definitions have evolved
to describe an ecological approach to restoration. The Society
for Ecological Restoration describes ecological restoration
as: "the process of assisting the recovery
and management of ecological integrity"
(SER, 2002), while others describe it
as "the art and science of repairing damaged ecosystems to
the greatest possible degree of historical authenticity" (Mills,
1995). Key to ecosystem recovery is the restoration of internal
processes, as well as ecosystem components (such as rare species,
or important habitat features). Implicit in any restoration project
is that the cause(s) of ecosystem degradation are identified and
controlled (Gayton 2001). Hence, restoration is sometimes as simple
as removing degrading agents (e.g., roads, dams, cows, or resource
extraction). It may also require long-term efforts, such as reintroducing
native species, removing exotic species, or reinstating natural
processes including fire and floods. A common concept in restoration
is to provide assistance in the context of our incomplete knowledge
of how ecosystems function. Given time and removal of degrading
agents, natural processes will accomplish most of the work.
Addressing degrading agents is critical to