In a world where rapid environmental change is rewriting the ground rules for conservation, habitat restoration is more important than ever. How we do restoration, however, needs to be even more robust to withstand the variablility and extremes that climate change is bringing. Some practices that have been effective up until now need to be reevaluated—and new approaches tried.
Today, returning a stream or aspen grove to healthy function may not mean recreating what it was like in the past. Instead, we must ask how to meet the needs of wildlife and humans in a climate-changed future.
Given the predicted climate conditions in the decades to come, and their likely impacts on natural systems, new restoration projects need to be “climate-smart.” No formal definition yet exists for “climate-smart ecological restoration,” but there is a pressing need to not only define the critical characteristics but to also implement, test, and share them.
At Point Blue, we are pulling together ideas about what a climate-smart restoration project might look like. And we are utilizing our new capacity with our Students and Teachers Restoring A Watershed Program (STRAW) to actually do on-the-ground restoration provides a real-world laboratory for testing these ideas.