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Introduction to Restoration Ecology (review)

Introduction to Restoration Ecology (review) Chapter 2 attempts to summarize all of ecology in the Introduction to Restoration Ecology Evelyn A. Howell, John A. Harrington, and Stephen B. Glass. context of restoration in a few pages, with some inevitable oversimplification that sometimes misinforms. Perhaps it 2011. Washington, DC: Island Press. Hardcover. $90.00. ISBN-13: 978-1-59726-189-0. 436 pages. would be better to sometimes just refer people to other sources, rather than try to summarize in more detail, espe- Finally! Since restoration burst on the academic scene cially for topics like statistics. Nonetheless, this chapter sets starting around 20 yr ago, we have been waiting for a suit- the conceptual foundation for what is to come. able textbook for undergraduate and graduate (especially The detail of methods presented as essential at each of masters-level) courses. Faculty have been cobbling together these stages is exhaustive, and potentially exhausting to readings drawn from primary literature, methods manu- practitioners. I applaud to completeness of these descrip- als, ecosystem-specific books, more conceptual texts, and tions, and they set a standard that we should seek to online guides, including the wonderful Society of Eco- achieve, but I would have liked a clear caveat that real- logical Restoration (SER) primer. However, we lacked a world projects will often need to (and do) simplify from single cohesive text that outlines the process of ecological these detailed standards. For example, the reported case restoration. Restoration Ecology ambitiously seeks to fill that studies appear to often be much simpler in assessment void, based on years of experience from authors drawn from (especially), planning, design, and implementation than the ranks of teaching, research, and restoration practice. is set out in these chapters. The difficult question is “How Together with Ecological Restoration by Susan Galatowitsch far can one deviate from the detailed ideal without risking (not reviewed here), we now have solid standards against restoration failure?” which future texts will be compared. In contrast (and yet related), one topic I wish had gotten Such undertakings are not only ambitious, but also greater attention is budgeting and costs. The most effective courageous. Restoration is both a rapidly evolving field, restoration techniques are often not the most cost-effective. and one with as many different approaches as there are In the authors’ defense, restoration researchers have also practitioners and teachers. A textbook sets itself up as a lagged behind in addressing this issue, one that practitio- target for a barrage of alternative views and also runs the ners grapple with daily, often informally. risk of becoming quickly dated. So I start with a caveat, I Perhaps appropriately, the book is strongly American, am only one of those voices, with my own idiosyncratic with most examples drawn from mesic and wetland systems viewpoint. in the U.S. One thing missing here and from almost all Right off the bat, the authors take a stand with their books on restoration is a description (and implications) of book’s title, rejecting the dichotomy between conceptual the remarkable resurgence of the eastern deciduous forest, ‘restoration ecology’ and the practice of ‘ecological restora- largely without restoration help. As a western ecologist, I tion’. We will see if this sticks (I still like the dichotomy). will also indulge a couple additional points: 1) The sen - They similarly do not shy from the difficulties of defining tence, “(S)ome plant species . . . alter grasslands and grazing what restoration is, deftly combining both practical and lands in California” hardly evokes the complete conversion more idealistic definitions. I appreciated their advice to the of these systems by a multitude of annual invaders; and book’s audience (restoration students) that “your goal will 2) treating fire as a ‘management tool’ misses the broader likely not be to duplicate the past—you cannot return an (and more difficult) goal of restoring historic fire regimes ecosystem to what it was a decade ago, let alone hundreds in a wide variety of ecosystems. of years ago—but rather to create for a sustainable future.” As I said at the beginning, it is easy to take potshots The book itself is well organized and clearly written. The at such an ambitious endeavor. No text can fully satisfy chapters parallel an organizational model for successful the divergent viewpoints extant in restoration, or survive restoration introduced at the beginning, from assessment too long without revision in a rapidly evolving field. This to planning to implementation to monitoring. There is book, however, does an admirable job and will deservingly due attention given to the human element in restoration. find a place on most restoration bookshelves (or better yet, There are enlightening boxes and case studies throughout, nightstands) and in many restoration classrooms. I heartily and each chapter ends with a short Key Concepts summary recommend it. and a useful discussion guide, Food for Thought. The text is crisp, the figures generally fine, and typographic errors Truman P. Young, Professor and Restoration Ecologist, rare (ironically, one of the very few I found was my own Department of Plant Sciences and Graduate Group in name in the References!). I did wish for more references, Ecology, University of California, Davis, CA 95616, and more recent ones. tpyoung@ucdavis.edu. 246 • September 2012 ECOLOGICAL RESTORATION 30:3 http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png Ecological Restoration University of Wisconsin Press

Introduction to Restoration Ecology (review)

Ecological Restoration , Volume 30 (3) – Aug 2, 2012

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Publisher
University of Wisconsin Press
ISSN
1543-4079

Abstract

Chapter 2 attempts to summarize all of ecology in the Introduction to Restoration Ecology Evelyn A. Howell, John A. Harrington, and Stephen B. Glass. context of restoration in a few pages, with some inevitable oversimplification that sometimes misinforms. Perhaps it 2011. Washington, DC: Island Press. Hardcover. $90.00. ISBN-13: 978-1-59726-189-0. 436 pages. would be better to sometimes just refer people to other sources, rather than try to summarize in more detail, espe- Finally! Since restoration burst on the academic scene cially for topics like statistics. Nonetheless, this chapter sets starting around 20 yr ago, we have been waiting for a suit- the conceptual foundation for what is to come. able textbook for undergraduate and graduate (especially The detail of methods presented as essential at each of masters-level) courses. Faculty have been cobbling together these stages is exhaustive, and potentially exhausting to readings drawn from primary literature, methods manu- practitioners. I applaud to completeness of these descrip- als, ecosystem-specific books, more conceptual texts, and tions, and they set a standard that we should seek to online guides, including the wonderful Society of Eco- achieve, but I would have liked a clear caveat that real- logical Restoration (SER) primer. However, we lacked a world projects will often need to (and do) simplify from single cohesive text that outlines the process of ecological these detailed standards. For example, the reported case restoration. Restoration Ecology ambitiously seeks to fill that studies appear to often be much simpler in assessment void, based on years of experience from authors drawn from (especially), planning, design, and implementation than the ranks of teaching, research, and restoration practice. is set out in these chapters. The difficult question is “How Together with Ecological Restoration by Susan Galatowitsch far can one deviate from the detailed ideal without risking (not reviewed here), we now have solid standards against restoration failure?” which future texts will be compared. In contrast (and yet related), one topic I wish had gotten Such undertakings are not only ambitious, but also greater attention is budgeting and costs. The most effective courageous. Restoration is both a rapidly evolving field, restoration techniques are often not the most cost-effective. and one with as many different approaches as there are In the authors’ defense, restoration researchers have also practitioners and teachers. A textbook sets itself up as a lagged behind in addressing this issue, one that practitio- target for a barrage of alternative views and also runs the ners grapple with daily, often informally. risk of becoming quickly dated. So I start with a caveat, I Perhaps appropriately, the book is strongly American, am only one of those voices, with my own idiosyncratic with most examples drawn from mesic and wetland systems viewpoint. in the U.S. One thing missing here and from almost all Right off the bat, the authors take a stand with their books on restoration is a description (and implications) of book’s title, rejecting the dichotomy between conceptual the remarkable resurgence of the eastern deciduous forest, ‘restoration ecology’ and the practice of ‘ecological restora- largely without restoration help. As a western ecologist, I tion’. We will see if this sticks (I still like the dichotomy). will also indulge a couple additional points: 1) The sen - They similarly do not shy from the difficulties of defining tence, “(S)ome plant species . . . alter grasslands and grazing what restoration is, deftly combining both practical and lands in California” hardly evokes the complete conversion more idealistic definitions. I appreciated their advice to the of these systems by a multitude of annual invaders; and book’s audience (restoration students) that “your goal will 2) treating fire as a ‘management tool’ misses the broader likely not be to duplicate the past—you cannot return an (and more difficult) goal of restoring historic fire regimes ecosystem to what it was a decade ago, let alone hundreds in a wide variety of ecosystems. of years ago—but rather to create for a sustainable future.” As I said at the beginning, it is easy to take potshots The book itself is well organized and clearly written. The at such an ambitious endeavor. No text can fully satisfy chapters parallel an organizational model for successful the divergent viewpoints extant in restoration, or survive restoration introduced at the beginning, from assessment too long without revision in a rapidly evolving field. This to planning to implementation to monitoring. There is book, however, does an admirable job and will deservingly due attention given to the human element in restoration. find a place on most restoration bookshelves (or better yet, There are enlightening boxes and case studies throughout, nightstands) and in many restoration classrooms. I heartily and each chapter ends with a short Key Concepts summary recommend it. and a useful discussion guide, Food for Thought. The text is crisp, the figures generally fine, and typographic errors Truman P. Young, Professor and Restoration Ecologist, rare (ironically, one of the very few I found was my own Department of Plant Sciences and Graduate Group in name in the References!). I did wish for more references, Ecology, University of California, Davis, CA 95616, and more recent ones. tpyoung@ucdavis.edu. 246 • September 2012 ECOLOGICAL RESTORATION 30:3

Journal

Ecological RestorationUniversity of Wisconsin Press

Published: Aug 2, 2012

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