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Ecosystem restoration should integrate natural and social sciences, appropriate monitoring

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Effective restoration of aquatic ecosystems

Authors propose a novel conceptual framework that will yield more effective ecosystem restoration: the Operational Restoration Unit

Posted: 24 May 2017 11:03 AM PDT

Despite having increased human wellbeing in the past, intense modifications by multiple and interacting pressures have degraded ecosystems and the sustainability of their goods and services. For ecosystem restoration to deliver on multiple environmental and societal targets, the process of restoration must be redesigned to create a unified and scale-dependent approach that integrates natural and social sciences as well as the broader restoration community, say researchers….

  1. N. Friberg, N.V. Angelopoulos, A.D. Buijse, I.G. Cowx, J. Kail, T.F. Moe, H. Moir, M.T. O’Hare, P.F.M. Verdonschot, C. Wolter. Effective River Restoration in the 21st Century. Advances in Ecological Research, 55: 535-611 DOI: 10.1016/bs.aecr.2016.08.010

From Abstract: …This modest success rate can partly be attributed to the fact that the catchment filter is largely ignored; large-scale pressures related to catchment land use or the lack of source populations for the recolonisation of the restored habitats are inadequately considered. The key reason for this shortfall is a lack of clear objective setting and planning processes. Furthermore, we suggest that there has been a focus on form rather than processes and functioning in river restoration, which has truncated the evolution of geomorphic features and any dynamic interaction with biota. Finally, monitoring of restoration outcomes is still rare and often uses inadequate statistical designs and inappropriate biological methods which hamper our ability to detect change.

2. Nikolai Friberg, Tom Buijse, Caitríona Carter, Daniel Hering, Bryan M. Spears, Piet Verdonschot, Therese Fosholt Moe. Effective restoration of aquatic ecosystems: scaling the barriers. Wiley Interdisciplinary Reviews: Water, 2017; 4 (1): e1190 DOI: 10.1002/wat2.119

Abstract: The focus of ecosystem restoration has recently shifted from pure rehabilitation objectives to both improving ecological functioning and the delivery of ecosystem services. However, these different targets need to be integrated to create a unified, synergistic, and balanced restoration approach. This should be done by combining state-of-the-art knowledge from natural and social sciences to create manageable units of restoration that consider both the temporal and multiple spatial scales of ecosystems, legislative units, and policy agendas. Only by considering these aspects combined can we accomplish more cost-efficient restoration resulting in resilient ecosystems that provide a wealth of ecosystem services and the possibility for sustainable economic development in the future. We propose a novel conceptual framework that will yield more effective ecosystem restoration: the Operational Restoration Unit. This is based on scale-dependent restoration actions that can adhere easily to the relevant environmental legislation, encompass the spatial and temporal resilience of aquatic ecosystems, and consider the sum of human pressures acting on water bodies. This opens up possibilities for an effective integration of the restoration agenda into the delivery of major policy objectives of economic growth, regional development, and human security. WIREs Water 2017, 4:e1190. doi: 10.1002/wat2.1190

For further resources related to this article, please visit the WIREs website.

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