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Tag Archive: restoration

  1. Soil carbon debt from 12,000 years of human land use

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    • global carbon debt due to agriculture of 133 Pg C [133 Gt (billion metric tons of C) or 488 Gt CO2e] for the top 2 m of soil, with the rate of loss increasing dramatically in the past 200 years
    • assuming soil organic carbon (SOM) reaches a new steady state in 20 y (35, 44), this calculation suggests that 8 Pg C to 28 Pg C [up to 28 Gt (billion metric tons of C) or 103 Gt CO2e] or can be recaptured
    • there are identifiable regions which can be targeted for SOC (soil organic carbon) restoration efforts
    • [Note: Hansen et al 2017 calls for 150 Pg C or ~550 Gt CO2e extraction from atmosphere globally with massive greenhouse emissions reductions of 6%/year starting in 2021 to return to 350 PPM CO2 in atmosphere and to secure a safe climate (Holocene) for human civilization by 2100]
      • [Sanderman high end scenario would be 19% of CO2e extraction needed to secure safe climate by 2100 per Hansen above]

    Jonathan Sanderman, Tomislav Hengl and Gregory J. Fiske. Soil carbon debt of 12,000 years of human land use. PNAS September 5, 2017 vol. 114 no. 36 9575-9580

    Abstract: Human appropriation of land for agriculture has greatly altered the terrestrial carbon balance, creating a large but uncertain carbon debt in soils. Estimating the size and spatial distribution of soil organic carbon (SOC) loss due to land use and land cover change has been difficult but is a critical step in understanding whether SOC sequestration can be an effective climate mitigation strategy. In this study, a machine learning-based model was fitted using a global compilation of SOC data and the History Database of the Global Environment (HYDE) land use data in combination with climatic, landform and lithology covariates. Model results compared favorably with a global compilation of paired plot studies. Projection of this model onto a world without agriculture indicated a global carbon debt due to agriculture of 133 Pg C for the top 2 m of soil, with the rate of loss increasing dramatically in the past 200 years. The HYDE classes “grazing” and “cropland” contributed nearly equally to the loss of SOC. There were higher percent SOC losses on cropland but since more than twice as much land is grazed, slightly higher total losses were found from grazing land. Important spatial patterns of SOC loss were found: Hotspots of SOC loss coincided
    with some major cropping regions as well as semiarid grazing regions, while other major agricultural zones showed small losses and even net gains in SOC. This analysis has demonstrated that there are identifiable regions which can be targeted for SOC restoration efforts.

    Implications: This analysis indicates that the majority of the used portions of planet Earth have lost SOC, resulting in a cumulative loss of ∼133 Pg C due to agricultural land use. These SOC losses are on par with estimates of carbon lost from living vegetation primarily due to deforestation (40) and are nearly 100 Pg C higher than earlier estimates of land use and land use change-driven losses of SOC (41). Importantly, as Fig. 1 demonstrates, there are hotspots of SOC loss, associated with extensive cropping regions but also with highly degraded grazing land (SI Appendix, Fig. S9), suggesting that there are identifiable regions which should be targets for SOC restoration efforts.

    The potential to recover lost SOC may be more limited than is often assumed. The amount of SOC that has been lost historically can be thought of as the carbon sink potential of the soil (42). Our analysis has found that this sink potential is ∼133 Pg C (SI Appendix, Table S3). A widely repeated figure is that, with adoption of best management practices, two thirds of lost SOC can be recovered (42). If the two-thirds figure is accurate, then SOC sequestration has the potential to offset 88 Pg C (322 Pg CO2) of emissions. However, bottom-up estimates of the maximum biophysical potential for carbon sequestration on cropping and grazing land range from 0.4 Pg Cy−1 to 1.4 Pg Cy−1 (20, 43). Assuming SOC reaches a new steady state in 20 y (35, 44), this calculation suggests that 8 Pg C to 28 Pg C can be recaptured. Even the range of 8 Pg C to 28 Pg C is likely overly ambitious given the various social, economic, and technical constraints on universal adoption of best management practices (45), suggesting that the amount of the carbon sink that can be filled is on the order of, at best, 10 to 30% globally and may well be <10%.

    Conclusions: Our data-driven statistical analysis confirms that agricultural land use is a significant driver of SOC levels. ….This analysis also demonstrated that not all land use is associated with large losses in SOC, particularly in regions with naturally infertile soils. These results provide a basis for national and international policies to target SOC restoration efforts but also suggest that more effort needs to be put into collecting, integrating, and using legacy soil profile data, especially historic data 50+ y old, so that even more reliable models of SOC dynamics can be produced.

     

  2. Restore soil in addition to vegetation; Study results suggest aboveground restoration does not restore soil microbial communities.

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    July 26 2017

    Michael S. Strickland, Mac A. Callaham Jr., Emile S. Gardiner, John A. Stanturf, Jonathan W. Leff, Noah Fierer, Mark A. Bradford. Response of soil microbial community composition and function to a bottomland forest restoration intensity gradientJuly 2017. Applied Soil Ecology 199: 317-326 https://doi.org/10.1016/j.apsoil.2017.07.008

    Comments from Dr. Chelsea Carey, Sr. Soil Ecologist at Point Blue:

    The findings differ from some other papers we have seen recently (where microorganisms rapidly respond to restoration efforts, and are influenced by changes in plant community composition); instead, the results of this study support another view, one which acknowledges the need to directly restore the soil in addition to vegetation.

    Some conclusions from discussion:In fact, from a microbial perspective the act of agricultural cessation likely had the most marked influence on these soil communities, while efforts aimed at rapidly establishing trees had relatively little effect to date. Our results therefore help to validate the emerging use of practices which focus directly on restoring soil biotic communities and their functions, through restoration treatments such as transplanting a thin layer of topsoil – albeit labor intensive – from sites similar to the restoration end-point (Kardol et al., 2009; Pywell et al., 2011; Vecrin and Muller, 2003; Wubs et al., 2016). That is, building a better aboveground community does not ensure that an equivalent belowground community will take the field, and so the focus should be on directly establishing both the aboveground and belowground players in future restoration efforts rather than relying on restoration myths (sensu Hilderbrand et al., 2005).”

    Highlights

    •We examined the effect of intensifying aboveground restoration on soil microbes.
    •Restoration had little influence on soil microbial community composition.
    •Restoration had little influence on soil microbial community function.
    Results suggest aboveground restoration does not restore soil microbial communities.

    Abstract: “Terrestrial ecosystems are globally under threat of loss or degradation. To compensate for the impacts incurred by loss and/or degradation, efforts to restore ecosystems are being undertaken. These efforts often focus on restoring the aboveground plant community with the expectation that the belowground microbial community will follow suit. This ‘Field of Dreams’ expectation – if you build it, they will come – makes untested assumptions about how microbial communities and their functions will respond to aboveground-focused restoration. To determine if restoration of aboveground plant communities equates to restoration of belowground microbial communities, we assessed the effects of four forest restoration treatments – varying in intensity from unmanaged to interplanting tree species – on microbial (i.e. prokaryotic and fungal) community composition and function (i.e. catabolic profiles and extracellular enzyme activities). Additionally, effects of the restoration treatments were compared to both degraded (i.e. active arable cultivation) and target endpoint communities (i.e. remnant bottomland forest) to determine the trajectory of intensifying aboveground restoration efforts on microbial communities. Approximately 16 years after the initiation of the restoration treatments, prokaryotic and fungal community composition, and microbial function in the four restoration treatments were intermediate to the endpoint communities. Surprisingly, intensification of aboveground restoration efforts led to few differences among the four restoration treatments and increasing intensification did not consistently lead to microbial communities with greater similarity in composition and function to the target remnant forest communities. Together these results suggest that belowground microbial community composition and function will respond little to, or will lag markedly behind, intensifying aboveground restoration efforts. Reliance on a ‘Field of Dreams’ approach, even if you build it better, may still lead to belowground microbial communities that remain uncoupled from aboveground communities. Importantly, our findings suggest that restoring aboveground vegetation may not lead to the intended restoration of belowground microbial communities and the ecosystem processes they mediate.”

     

  3. Environmental impact bonds: Next big thing for green investments?

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    Diego Herrera / Published July 14, 2017  See full Environmental Defense Fund Blog article here

    … a growing number of state and local governments are looking to wetland restoration and other nature-based solutions to try to tackle longstanding water management and conservation needs in a changing climate.

    Only problem is, who will fund such non-traditional infrastructure projects as public funding sources become increasingly stretched? Try private-sector investors willing to bet on a “pay-for-success” bond offering, a new financial tool that ties rewards to measurable social or environmental outcomes. Environmental impact bonds, or EIBs, fit under the broad umbrella of green bonds and are just now beginning to gain some traction.

    We think EIBs could hold the key to the financing of wetland restoration projects to reduce flooding in coastal areas in the U.S. and beyond – much-needed projects for which private-sector support is critical.

    DC Water, Washington’s water utility, pioneered the nation’s first EIB bond offering in late 2016 when it sold a $25-million, tax-exempt EIB in a private placement to the Goldman Sachs Urban Investment Group and the Calvert Foundation. The money will initiate the city’s DC Clean Rivers Project, a $2.6-billion program to control storm water runoff and improve local water quality using natural infrastructure.

    It could mark the beginning of a new environmental financing mechanism that could eventually open up funding for wetland restoration and coastal resilience projects worldwide.

    Three key components must be present to make such a financial tool successful:

    1. Returns must be determined by outcome…

    2. EIBs should generate savings on project costs…

    3. Performance metrics must be well-defined…

    ….The timing for such sustainable finance strategies looks good. While still representing less than 1 percent of global investment assets, the impact investing sector is expected to grow tenfold from $77 billion to about $700 billion by 2020.

  4. Beaver Restoration Guidebook v 2.0

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    Download the Beaver Restoration Guidebook Version 2.0

    We are pleased to announce that Version 2.0 of The Beaver Restoration Guidebook (BRG) is available for use on the Oregon Fish and Wildlife Office website. Version 2.0 of the BRG has been updated to include a new chapter on Urban Beavers authored by Greg Lewallen.

    The Urban Beaver Management Chapter discusses strategies and techniques applicable to managing beaver in a broad range of urban settings. It attempts to balance the urban habitat needs of beaver while protecting the property and infrastructure of private and public lands. Two urban beaver case studies and two urban beaver management reports are included in Version 2.0 to provide lessons learned and examples of different techniques applied to urban beaver projects. We hope the information contained in this chapter can be used to facilitate the non-lethal management of urban beaver, help restore degraded urban aquatic habitats using beaver, and to continue the discussion of using beaver-based restoration techniques across varied settings in North America….

    The BRG was developed in partnership with U.S. Fish & Wildlife, NOAA, Portland State University, and the U.S. Forest Service with funding from the North Pacific Landscape Conservation Cooperative

  5. 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.

  6. Effective Restoration of Aquatic Ecosystems

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    Effective Restoration of Aquatic Ecosystems

    May 24 2017 ScienceDaily

    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. r … read more

     

    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
    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/wat2.1190
  7. Natural infrastructure working in CA– setback levees perform better than traditional

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    After the Storms: A fresh look at the work of setback levees

    By Heather Hacking, Chico Enterprise-Record Posted:

    Marysville >> Rivers were swift and wide this winter with heavy storms adding up to the wettest winter in 122 years….The Marysville area has been a historically flood-prone area, but this year a billion dollars worth of setback levees did the job they were designed to do.

    John Carlon is a big fan of setback levees. Rather than placing river barriers close to the river channel, setback levees are built farther away. When there’s more water, the flow spreads. Water slows and things can grow.….

    When he visited the Feather River after recent storms, many of the plants and trees he had planted were underwater, just as planned….

  8. Restoration Economy: Save 220,000 Rural Jobs And Conserve Nature?

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    Feb 6 2017 Ecosystem Marketplace see full article here

    …. There is, however, a way to reduce regulations without hurting jobs or the environment ….companies save money by cutting jobs, and in this case, the jobs they cut will be those that pay people to plant trees, restore rivers, and turn soggy, unproductive farms into wetlands that filter water, purify air, and slow climate change.

    Those jobs are part of a $25 billion “restoration economy” that directly employs 126,000 people and supports 95,000 other jobs – mostly in small businesses – according to a 2015 survey that environmental economist Todd BenDor conducted through the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

    The restoration economy is already providing jobs for loggers across Oregon, and even some coal miners in Virginia, but it could disappear if the GOP environmental rollback continues. Here are 11 things you need to know to understand it.

    1.   It’s not Solar and Wind

    The restoration economy is not to be confused with the renewable energy boom that employs 374,000 people in solar parks and 101,738 on wind farms. Like those, however, the restoration economy is part of a burgeoning “green economy” that’s transforming forests, farms, and fields around the world.

    2.   It’s Government-Driven

    …The demand for restoration, however, isn’t as automatic as the demand for electricity is, because most companies and even some landowners won’t clean up their messes without an incentive to do so. Economists call these messes “externalities” because they dump an internal responsibility on the external world, and governments are created in part to deal with them – mostly through “command-and-control” regulation, but also through systems that let polluters either fix their messes or create something as good or better than what they destroy.

    3.   It’s Often Market-Based

    ….At least $2.8 billion per year flows through ecosystem markets in the United States, according to Ecosystem Marketplace research.

    4.   Infrastructure Also Drives Restoration

    The federal government – especially the military – holds itself to high environmental standards, as do many states. Government activities alone support thousands of restoration jobs. Government agencies are big buyers of credits, often to offset damage caused by infrastructure projects, but the link between infrastructure and restoration goes even deeper than that. In Philadelphia, for example, restoration workers are using water fees to restore degraded forests and fields as part of a plan to better manage storm runoff. In California, meadows and streams that control floods are legally treated as green infrastructure, to be funded from that pot of money. “Green infrastructure”, it turns out, is prettier than concrete and lasts longer to boot.

    5.   Markets Can Reduce Regulations

    Nature is complex, and rigid regulations often fail to address that complexity, as environmental economist Todd BenDor makes clear when he points to regulations ”….Done right, environmental markets can replace overly prescriptive regulations, but they still require government oversight and regulation. “Markets are entirely reliant on strong monitoring, verification, and enforcement of limits,” says BenDor. “Provisions must be made to ensure that, but in reality it’s often a problem.”

    6.   Restoration Stimulates Rural Economies

    In 2015, BenDor published a study called “Estimating the Size and Impact of the Ecological Restoration Economy”, which found restoration businesses in all 50 states. California had the most, but four “Red” states filled out the top five: Virginia, Florida, Texas, and North Carolina. Last place went to North Dakota…

    7.   It’s been Mapped…

    8.   The Jobs are Robot-Proof…

    9.   The Jobs are Cost-Effective…

    10.  It Doesn’t Stifle Business…

    11.  It Can Be Improved…

  9. Why Nature Restoration Takes Time

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    Eureka Alert  Feb 8 2017  see full article here

    Relationships’ in the soil become stronger during the process of nature restoration. Although all major groups of soil life are already present in former agricultural soils, they are not really ‘connected’ at first. These connections need time to (literally) grow, and fungi are the star performers here (via Eureka Alert).

    ….A large European research team discovered that when you try to restore nature on grasslands formerly used as agricultural fields, there is something missing. Lead author Elly Morriën from the Netherlands Institute of Ecology explains: “All the overarching, known groups of soil organisms are present from the start, but the links between them are missing. Because they don’t ‘socialise’, the community isn’t ready to support a diverse plant community yet.”…

    …”Fungi turn out to play a very important role in nature restoration, appearing to drive the development of new networks in the soil.” In agricultural soils, the thready fungal hyphae are severely reduced by ploughing for example, and therefore the undamaged soil bacteria have an advantage and rule here. The researchers studied a series of former agricultural fields that had changed use 6 to 30 years previously. With time, there is a strong increase in the role of fungi….

  10. Kenya to Restore Denmark-sized Area of Degraded Land

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    Kenya announced on September 8th that it will restore 5.1 million hectares (12.6 million acres) of degraded land, an area roughly the size of Denmark, to more productive use. The move is poised to improve livelihoods, curb climate change, safeguard biodiversity and more.

    by Hayden Higgins and Aaron Minnick – September 13, 2016 World Resources Institute

    http://www.wri.org/blog/2016/09/kenya-restore-denmark-sized-area-degraded-land

    As a result of poor land use, including overcultivation and overgrazing, Kenya has been quickly losing land to desertification. The drylands that make up much of the country are particularly susceptible. Kenya’s restoration plan is not only notable because it will reverse some of this degradation, but because of how the country set its international target….…. The benefits of these actions go way beyond land—restoration can bolster several sectors of the environment and economy all at once. Estimates show carbon sequestered by restored trees will lower the country’s CO2 emissions by 3.7 percent (14.5 percent of Kenya’s greenhouse gas emissions came from forestry and land-use change in 2011). These reductions will in turn contribute towards other international environmental agreements, such as Kenya’s nationally determined contribution (NDC) to reduce its emissions 30 percent below business as usual by 2030….

    About three-quarters of Kenyans are farmers, and many citizens rely on land and resources for their livelihoods. Continent-wide, 3 percent of agricultural productivity is lost due to soil and nutrient loss. Restoration can boost the quality of soil, reduce drought and erosion, and increase crop yields. Restoring degraded lands to productivity can also improve air and water quality for residents. In particular, land restoration will benefit Kenya’s least-advantaged, including members of nomadic tribes that make their living by grazing livestock and growing food crops in the rangelands. These arid and semi-arid landscapes constitute 80 percent of the country, and are widely degraded. Hitting the 5.1 million hectare target means wide areas of rangeland will have to be restored.

    … Kenya’s commitment is just the latest addition to growing global and regional restoration movements. The Bonn Challenge reached in 2011 aims to restore 150 million hectares (371 million acres) of degraded land by 2020; 350 million (865 million acres) by 2030. So far, 38 countries, now including Kenya, have made commitments to restore degraded lands.

    Regionally, Kenya joins Burundi, Central African Republic, Cote d’Ivoire, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Ghana, Ethiopia, Guinea, Liberia, Madagascar, Malawi, Mozambique, Niger, Republic of the Congo, Rwanda and Uganda in making restoration commitments. Collectively, they’ve promised to restore 46 million hectares (114 million acres) by 2030, goals that support the Bonn Challenge and AFR100, a regional, country-led initiative to restore 100 million hectares (247 million acres) of degraded land in Africa.