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Ecological restoration for future sustainability in a changing environment

Choi, Y.D., Temperton, V.M., Allen, E.B., Grootjans, A.P., Halassy, M., Hobbs, R.J., Naeth, M.A. and Torok, K. (2008) Ecological restoration for future sustainability in a changing environment. Ecoscience, 15 (1). pp. 53-64.


Since its emergence in the past decades, restoration ecology has demonstrated an astounding growth as a new discipline of applied science. At the same time, this young discipline has been criticized for its retrospective goals largely based on the past, its fragmented approach, and its idealistic goals, which do not relate to the real world context. Restoration with past-focused, idealistic, and/or ad hoc goals may not work in the future because an ecosystem that is restored for the past environment is not likely to be sustainable in the changing environment of the future, simple recomposition of isolated and fragmented naturalistic patches is not likely to restore ecosystem functions, and unrealistic goals and work plans are not likely to gain public support. We advocate directing the principles and practice of ecological restoration to the future. Future-aimed restoration should acknowledge the changing and unpredictable environment of the future, assume the dynamic nature of ecological communities with multiple trajectories, and connect landscape elements for improving ecosystem functions and structures. In this paper, we discuss the predictability of restoration trajectories under changing environmental conditions, the application of ecological theories to restoration practice, the importance of interdisciplinary approaches and human interventions in ecosystem recovery, and the social context of ecological restoration.

Item Type: Journal Article
Publisher: Universite Laval
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