June 15, 2006 Ecosystems behave in unpredictable ways and, because of this, restoration ecologists are often faced with unforeseen challenges. Researchers, in a recent article published in Restoration Ecology, argue that restoration methods of the past may not always be applicable in the future.
They see the largest potential challenge ahead is restoring environments undergoing the most rapid rate of change in the earth's history. This global climate change is likely to have important regional consequences for biota and ecosystems.
Ecological restoration, including reafforestation and rehabilitation of degraded land, may be a common response to the effects of climate change, but the implications of this changing environment must be considered. Using past ecosystem conditions as targets and references may be ineffective under new conditions.
In addition, there may be less support in the future for longer-term, traditional restoration projects. The authors suggest that, "more consideration and debate needs to be directed at the implications of climate change for restoration practice."
This article is published in the June issue of Restoration Ecology.
Restoration Ecology fosters the exchange of ideas among the many disciplines involved in the process of ecological restoration. Addressing global concerns and communicating them to the international scientific community, the journal is at the forefront of a vital new direction in science and ecology. It is published on behalf of the Society for Ecological Restoration International.
James A. Harris of Cranfield University, Richard Hobbs, Eric Higgs of the University of Victoria, and James Aronson of the Restoration Ecology Group authored the study. Richard Hobbs is Professorial Fellow, School of Environmental Science, Murdoch University, Australia.
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