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Perspectives

Perspectives SER EDITORIAL elevision, online, and printed news of environ- around the world. There are other examples, but I won’t try to list them. I’ll simply state that ecological restoration will mental challenges are quite discouraging. While Toften accurate they are incomplete and seldom be increasingly viewed as a viable strategy for addressing local to global environmental problems. convey any sense of optimism. Mass media seem more focused on shock value than enlightenment or education. Many conservation and natural resource organizations list ecological restoration as a strength and one of their Perhaps that’s simply smart, effective marketing? If you are reading this in Ecological Restoration, you are undoubtedly many priorities. The Society for Ecological Restoration is and has always been completely focused on ecological aware of our challenges from local to global scales. You are also part of the solution! Individually, our contributions restoration. We will continue our leadership role, but the growing interest and participation in ecological restoration may be as local as restoring a backyard habitat, as com- mercial as operating an ecological restoration business, is entirely positive. The challenges and opportunities exceed the capacity of any single organization. Ecological restora- as academic as testing hypotheses relating to successional processes, or as political as voting to support environ- tion is an integrative discipline seeking integrated solutions to complex ecological and social problems. That requires mental issues. Collectively, our actions have the power to effect change. effective communication and collaboration among many organizations and disciplines. Fortunately, this philosophy Clearly, there are serious global environmental challenges that continue to grow. Six billion people—rising toward of disciplinary integration is becoming more common and increasingly effective. 9 billion by 2050—have substantial impacts. The Millen - nium Ecosystem Assessment (www.maweb.org) indicated Perhaps more challenging, for many of us, is the need to reexamine our own personal perspective on “restora- that the drivers of biodiversity loss, human poverty, and diminished ecosystem services are either “steady, show no tion” relative to what is required for the future. Practical experience and contemporary science is challenging our evidence of declining, or are increasing in intensity.” Accel- erated depletion of natural capital that further diminishes prevailing paradigms—leading some to alter deeply held assumptions and perspectives. In many situations, our the provision of ecosystem services could potentially reduce food production by 25% by 2050. For biodiversity, the reliance on historical conditions as restoration goals limits our ability to build resilience into damaged ecosystems. consequences of that scenario could be catastrophic. Before you quit reading to mix that drink—I’ll stop describing Climate change, drastic disturbances, and human popu- lation pressures may render historic conditions irrelevant. the problems you already understand and move to more optimistic thoughts on how our perspectives can either The knowledge and tools of ecological restoration are valuable and should not be limited to returning historical facilitate or limit our progress. Fortunately, there are many successes, reasons for hope, conditions. Increasingly, we are confronted with circum- stances where the more appropriate goals should be to and growing legions of individuals and organizations focused on various aspects of ecological restoration. Every restore resilience while returning natural capital and the recovery of ecosystem services. Our willingness to evolve issue of Ecological Restoration provides positive examples that both inform and encourage. The Society for Ecologi- our perspectives and practices will shape the future and determine our relevance in the future. cal Restoration supports the Global Restoration Network website (www.globalrestorationnetwork.org) with thou- Steve Whisenant sands of informative case studies. A recent publication of the United Nations Environment Program “Dead Planet, Chair Society for Ecological Restoration Living Planet: Biodiversity and Ecosystem Restoration for Sustainable Development” (www.grida.no/publications/rr/ dead-planet) describes a range of effective examples from Ecological Restoration Vol. 29, No. 4, 2011 ISSN 15 22-4740 E-ISSN 15 43-4079 ©2011 by the Board of Regents of the University of Wisconsin System. December 2011 ECOLOGICAL RESTORATION 29:4 • 319 http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png Ecological Restoration University of Wisconsin Press

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Abstract

SER EDITORIAL elevision, online, and printed news of environ- around the world. There are other examples, but I won’t try to list them. I’ll simply state that ecological restoration will mental challenges are quite discouraging. While Toften accurate they are incomplete and seldom be increasingly viewed as a viable strategy for addressing local to global environmental problems. convey any sense of optimism. Mass media seem more focused on shock value than enlightenment or education. Many conservation and natural resource organizations list ecological restoration as a strength and one of their Perhaps that’s simply smart, effective marketing? If you are reading this in Ecological Restoration, you are undoubtedly many priorities. The Society for Ecological Restoration is and has always been completely focused on ecological aware of our challenges from local to global scales. You are also part of the solution! Individually, our contributions restoration. We will continue our leadership role, but the growing interest and participation in ecological restoration may be as local as restoring a backyard habitat, as com- mercial as operating an ecological restoration business, is entirely positive. The challenges and opportunities exceed the capacity of any single organization. Ecological restora- as academic as testing hypotheses relating to successional processes, or as political as voting to support environ- tion is an integrative discipline seeking integrated solutions to complex ecological and social problems. That requires mental issues. Collectively, our actions have the power to effect change. effective communication and collaboration among many organizations and disciplines. Fortunately, this philosophy Clearly, there are serious global environmental challenges that continue to grow. Six billion people—rising toward of disciplinary integration is becoming more common and increasingly effective. 9 billion by 2050—have substantial impacts. The Millen - nium Ecosystem Assessment (www.maweb.org) indicated Perhaps more challenging, for many of us, is the need to reexamine our own personal perspective on “restora- that the drivers of biodiversity loss, human poverty, and diminished ecosystem services are either “steady, show no tion” relative to what is required for the future. Practical experience and contemporary science is challenging our evidence of declining, or are increasing in intensity.” Accel- erated depletion of natural capital that further diminishes prevailing paradigms—leading some to alter deeply held assumptions and perspectives. In many situations, our the provision of ecosystem services could potentially reduce food production by 25% by 2050. For biodiversity, the reliance on historical conditions as restoration goals limits our ability to build resilience into damaged ecosystems. consequences of that scenario could be catastrophic. Before you quit reading to mix that drink—I’ll stop describing Climate change, drastic disturbances, and human popu- lation pressures may render historic conditions irrelevant. the problems you already understand and move to more optimistic thoughts on how our perspectives can either The knowledge and tools of ecological restoration are valuable and should not be limited to returning historical facilitate or limit our progress. Fortunately, there are many successes, reasons for hope, conditions. Increasingly, we are confronted with circum- stances where the more appropriate goals should be to and growing legions of individuals and organizations focused on various aspects of ecological restoration. Every restore resilience while returning natural capital and the recovery of ecosystem services. Our willingness to evolve issue of Ecological Restoration provides positive examples that both inform and encourage. The Society for Ecologi- our perspectives and practices will shape the future and determine our relevance in the future. cal Restoration supports the Global Restoration Network website (www.globalrestorationnetwork.org) with thou- Steve Whisenant sands of informative case studies. A recent publication of the United Nations Environment Program “Dead Planet, Chair Society for Ecological Restoration Living Planet: Biodiversity and Ecosystem Restoration for Sustainable Development” (www.grida.no/publications/rr/ dead-planet) describes a range of effective examples from Ecological Restoration Vol. 29, No. 4, 2011 ISSN 15 22-4740 E-ISSN 15 43-4079 ©2011 by the Board of Regents of the University of Wisconsin System. December 2011 ECOLOGICAL RESTORATION 29:4 • 319

Journal

Ecological RestorationUniversity of Wisconsin Press

Published: Nov 5, 2011

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