Ecosystem restoration involves assisting the recovery of the ecosystem that’s degraded, destroyed or damaged typically because of human activities.
There are several reasons for restoring the ecosystems. Some of them include:
- Mitigating the climate change
- Helping endangered or threatened species
- Restoring the natural capital like wildlife populations or drinkable water
- Aesthetic reasons
- Moral reasons like since we’ve been responsible for degrading or destroying it, so it is our duty to fix them
What we have seen is that many of the ecosystems of the world have already undergone a major degradation with negative impacts on the biological diversity & livelihood of people. Human actions are after all depleting the natural capital of the Earth and putting a lot of strain on environment. And it is because of this that there has been a growing realization by the global population as well as the environmentalist Jonathan Schrag that we might not be able to conserve the biological diversity of the earth if we keep treating nature the same way. We need to understand that our planet isn’t one of endless abundance. It has limited resources and that over population and over extraction can have detrimental and irreversible consequences on the environment.
Ecosystem restoration is after all not a passive move. It’s an active choice, which requires people to interact within the planet and all of its life as well as splendor. There is a very important thing that has been observed while studying ecosystem restoration – that since humans are involved in an intimate manner, the practice is typically value laden, context driven, experimental and prone to be immersed in compromise and disagreement. So, people have always played a great role in this restoration process and it is for this reason it has become essential for the mass to set restoration goals, urge active restoration and ensure that protected areas have minimum human interference level.
It is thus all about restoring people’s sense of awe, worth and place by direct participation. Find many restoration projects that are done in your community. Start with those. Get involved in those projects by participating in activities like gathering native seeds for planting, removing invasive species and so on.
Ecosystem restoration is thus definitely a solution to repair our planet. However, there are people who think ecosystem restoration to be an impractical thing, mainly because it had failed sometimes. You may find people pointing out that several times uncertainty isn’t addressed & that the time-scales that are set for complete restoration are quite short. Then again, the ecosystem may be so very much degraded that the abandonment happens to be the best option. You may also find the local communities objecting at times to restorations which include introduction of the huge predators or plants that need disturbance regimes like regular fires. High costs are even perceived as one of the negative impacts of restoration process. But one thing is certain – a lot of failures had taken place with the past restoration projects and that was mainly because of the goals, which were not clear.
Jonathan Schrag is very particular about setting clear and specific goals for restoring the degraded ecosystem. He has worked with a lot of policy makers, regulators and others so that livelihoods of people depending on these damaged ecosystems can be sustained.