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Restoration in the City

Restoration in the City SER EDITORIAL s I sat down to write this piece, I found it hard to areas. Of course, many cities were founded where they are believe that we are entering the second decade of precisely because they were areas of high biodiversity— Athe new millennium—it seems that I was writing typically where very different ecosystem types merge or about entering the new millennium only yesterday! Of change abruptly—riverbanks and coastal areas are good course, in geological terms, ten years doesn’t even register, examples. This means that old-style “concreting over” unless there is a significant point event such as an impact urban development has had a disproportionate impact on from a meteorite. We have had a significant event, how - biodiversity—both locally and further afield. ever, in terms of human demography. As we know, the This is why urban restoration offers such an exciting global population is growing, with predictions of around prospect. In 1996, the SER conference, held at Rutgers nine to ten billion people alive by the middle of the cen- University and organized by Professor Steven Handel, tury—others say that this is an underestimate. Many res- theme was “From Paved to Protected” and had a number toration programs are aimed at recreating assemblages of of examples of restoration in an urban context. There are plants and animals in existence prior to 1800, when the many examples of restoration in urban areas on a site-by- human population reached one billion—a long way from site basis, and urban river corridor restorations are bringing the time, circa 70,000 years ago, when humans nearly connection between sites. The Natural Resources Group became extinct as a result of rapid fluctuations in climate. of New York City has just celebrated its 25th anniversary, But the increase in population, and the pressures that having been founded by Commissioner Henry Stern in it will bring to bear on natural and agricultural systems 1984, and was led in its early years by the Society’s first for increased food production, perhaps at the expense of Theodore Sperry Award winner, Marc Matsil. In that time biodiversity, is not the significant event that I am mind - 11,600 hectares of land have been restored—within the ful of. Rather it is that in this decade, the majority of the city limits. global human population no longer lives in rural areas We need to bring restoration back into cities, not only but in cities, as estimated by the United Nations Environ- to restore basic ecosystem function but also to reconnect ment Programme. Further, UNEP calculates that by 2050 people with nature, providing inspiration to young and old around 65% of the global human population will live in alike. There is very good evidence that seeing a butterfly in urban areas. This is a result in part of people moving from an urban setting has psychological benefits—an increase rural to urban areas for a variety of reasons, including in happiness. Ecological restorationists have a central role “pushes” such as agricultural mechanization reducing farm in influencing and acting in this important movement— labor, but also the “pull” of cities. critical for the restoration of our beautiful planet. So I As a result, the majority of the world’s human popula- applaud those restorationists, professionals and volunteers tion may have little direct experience of nature and the alike, who are embarking on this task with determination ecosystems that support us. This is a challenge and an and gusto, from backyard plots, through green roofs and opportunity for ecological restorationists. It is, of course, of walls, to large municipal schemes. We need to make every vital importance that we continue and expand our activities household a place of ecological restoration—spread the to restore ecosystem function and structure in those areas word and let’s get to it! outside of the areas designated as urban (nature knows no such boundaries, of course), in order to restore the natural Jim Harris capital upon which human society depends. But there are Chair also fantastic opportunities to bring nature back into urban Society for Ecological Restoration International Ecological Restoration Vol. 28, No. 1, 2010 ISSN 1522-4740 E-ISSN 1543-4079 ©2010 by the Board of Regents of the University of Wisconsin System. March 2010 ECOLOGICAL RESTORATION 28:1 • 3 http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png Ecological Restoration University of Wisconsin Press

Restoration in the City

Ecological Restoration , Volume 28 (1) – Jun 10, 2010

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Abstract

SER EDITORIAL s I sat down to write this piece, I found it hard to areas. Of course, many cities were founded where they are believe that we are entering the second decade of precisely because they were areas of high biodiversity— Athe new millennium—it seems that I was writing typically where very different ecosystem types merge or about entering the new millennium only yesterday! Of change abruptly—riverbanks and coastal areas are good course, in geological terms, ten years doesn’t even register, examples. This means that old-style “concreting over” unless there is a significant point event such as an impact urban development has had a disproportionate impact on from a meteorite. We have had a significant event, how - biodiversity—both locally and further afield. ever, in terms of human demography. As we know, the This is why urban restoration offers such an exciting global population is growing, with predictions of around prospect. In 1996, the SER conference, held at Rutgers nine to ten billion people alive by the middle of the cen- University and organized by Professor Steven Handel, tury—others say that this is an underestimate. Many res- theme was “From Paved to Protected” and had a number toration programs are aimed at recreating assemblages of of examples of restoration in an urban context. There are plants and animals in existence prior to 1800, when the many examples of restoration in urban areas on a site-by- human population reached one billion—a long way from site basis, and urban river corridor restorations are bringing the time, circa 70,000 years ago, when humans nearly connection between sites. The Natural Resources Group became extinct as a result of rapid fluctuations in climate. of New York City has just celebrated its 25th anniversary, But the increase in population, and the pressures that having been founded by Commissioner Henry Stern in it will bring to bear on natural and agricultural systems 1984, and was led in its early years by the Society’s first for increased food production, perhaps at the expense of Theodore Sperry Award winner, Marc Matsil. In that time biodiversity, is not the significant event that I am mind - 11,600 hectares of land have been restored—within the ful of. Rather it is that in this decade, the majority of the city limits. global human population no longer lives in rural areas We need to bring restoration back into cities, not only but in cities, as estimated by the United Nations Environ- to restore basic ecosystem function but also to reconnect ment Programme. Further, UNEP calculates that by 2050 people with nature, providing inspiration to young and old around 65% of the global human population will live in alike. There is very good evidence that seeing a butterfly in urban areas. This is a result in part of people moving from an urban setting has psychological benefits—an increase rural to urban areas for a variety of reasons, including in happiness. Ecological restorationists have a central role “pushes” such as agricultural mechanization reducing farm in influencing and acting in this important movement— labor, but also the “pull” of cities. critical for the restoration of our beautiful planet. So I As a result, the majority of the world’s human popula- applaud those restorationists, professionals and volunteers tion may have little direct experience of nature and the alike, who are embarking on this task with determination ecosystems that support us. This is a challenge and an and gusto, from backyard plots, through green roofs and opportunity for ecological restorationists. It is, of course, of walls, to large municipal schemes. We need to make every vital importance that we continue and expand our activities household a place of ecological restoration—spread the to restore ecosystem function and structure in those areas word and let’s get to it! outside of the areas designated as urban (nature knows no such boundaries, of course), in order to restore the natural Jim Harris capital upon which human society depends. But there are Chair also fantastic opportunities to bring nature back into urban Society for Ecological Restoration International Ecological Restoration Vol. 28, No. 1, 2010 ISSN 1522-4740 E-ISSN 1543-4079 ©2010 by the Board of Regents of the University of Wisconsin System. March 2010 ECOLOGICAL RESTORATION 28:1 • 3

Journal

Ecological RestorationUniversity of Wisconsin Press

Published: Jun 10, 2010

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