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Applications Of Ecological Restoration

Restoration

Ecological restoration is the process of restoring an ecosystem or habitat back to its original state after it has undergone any kind of disturbance. It is an intentional activity induced in an ecosystem to accelerate the recovery of the overall ecosystem in terms of health, sustainability and integrity. A wide range of ecological processes can be done to restore an ecosystem like afforestation, daylight streams,reintroduction of native species, removal of non native species, habitat and range improvement of targeted species, removal of weeds and revegetation of arid areas.

APPLICATIONS

Leaf Litter Accumulation

Believe it or no, this is one of the most important roles in the restoration process. It essentially means that whatever leaves fall on the ground are allowed to accumulate on the forest floor. Leaf litter holds a higher quantity of water vapour between it and this increases the chances of condensation and moistness for plant life to grow. This also depends on other natural factors like wind and species accumulation in the forest. The leaf litter is more abundant in primary forests than in secondary forests, making them more susceptible to change using this process than secondary forests.

Soil Heterogeneity

Soil Heterogeneity

Spatial heterogeneity of resources can greatly affect the plant community composition, diversity and assembly trajectory. It has been found that soil resource heterogeneity in a tall grass prairie area, there was an insufficient amount of resource heterogeneity that led to situations where one species dominated others. This proved that ecological filters were necessary to sustain community assemblies.

Invasion and Restoration

Restoration processes can also be used to limit the spread of invasive flora and fauna in a functioning ecosystem. Different ecosystems require different treatment and techniques for managing different types of invaders. The approach used to control the invading plant or animal species must also not affect the ecosystem you are trying to save it from. The approach must be targeted and should only affect what is to be affected. These are not used to restore entire ecosystems, but rather as a preventive measure to avoid spreading a localised invasion across the ecosystem. The idea is to remove the invading species, thereby reducing the effects it can cause to the short term and long term sustainability of the given ecosystem. An example of this would be using a colony of carpenter ants to a nest of yellow crazy ants, because yellow crazy ants are harmful for certain types of plants while carpenter ants are not.

Succession Trajectories

Succession is the actual natural process of restoration of an ecosystem. However, this restoration may be sporadic in nature and undesirable elements might accumulate and amplify. Therefore it is important to control the environmental conditions during succession so that only the desirable elements are amplified.

Concepts Underpinning Restoration

Restoration

Ecological restoration is the systematic process of restoring an ecosystem or habitat back to its original state after it has undergone any kind of disturbance. It is an intentional activity introduced in an ecosystem to accelerate the recovery of the overall ecosystem in terms of health, sustainability and integrity. A large variety of ecological processes can be done to restore an ecosystem like afforestation, daylight streams,reintroduction of native species, removal of non native species, habitat and range improvement of targeted species, removal of weeds and revegetation of arid areas. There are a lot of factors that underpin the requirement of ecological restoration, and why it is the need of the hour in so many ecologically critical environments. Some of these are listed below.

Disturbance

Disturbance is a change in the ecosystem that can potentially cause short term or long term harm to it. It can occur at many scales and at different levels of severity. Some are natural parts of every ecosystem. They can potentially bring about major changes like species composition, soil properties and even changes in nutrient cycling. Natural disturbances include volcanic eruptions, tree falls, floods, forest fires, severe weather damage etc. Anthropogenic disturbances are much more common and more devastating in impact. They may include clearing land for agriculture, building a dam etc. The restoration process aims at speeding up the recovery process after a disturbance has taken place in a ecosystem.

Ecological restoration

Genetics

Plants and animals that were present before the disturbance occurred, and are local to the ecosystem are highly likely to be well adapted to it. Therefore, one way of bringing back order and normalcy to the ecosystem is to use plant and animal materials collected from local sources and relocate them there in larger numbers. The greater the number of plants and animals included, the greater the biodiversity, and greater the chance of bouncing back after a disturbance. The native plants and animals are also quite adept at fighting off foreign invaders if they have larger numbers, and if they are spread across a larger ecological landscape.

Succession

Ecological succession is the methodical process of accelerating the bouncing back of an ecosystem after it has gone through a disturbance event. There are two types of successions possible: active succession and passive succession. Passive succession simply refers to the natural succession of the ecosystem by removing the source of the disturbance. Example of a passive restoration is the recovery of the deciduous forests in the eastern United States after the abandonment of agriculture. Active restoration involves accelerating the rate of recovery of the ecosystem by changing the trajectory of succession. Mine tailings would take decades longer to recover from if not for active restoration.

Every Restoration Is Unique

Restoration

Practitioners of ecological restoration are acutely aware that the outcomes of their efforts depend on a multitude of factors. Some of these are well understood and remedial measures can be applied; while some other factors are much less understood, if they are even identified. For instance, control of exotic species, species selection, site preparation and planting methods can all play significant roles in the restoration process and change the ecosystem in ways that are only partially understood. It is also known that the same restoration technique when used in identical situations over the course of several years can yield dramatically different results. Such a change can be difficult for practitioners to predict and therefore they might need to keep contingency plans in place beforehand.

For example, consider a study conducted in the California grasslands, which is under the dual threat of land conversion and invasion of exotic grasses that grow annually. The research explored contingencies in restoration outcomes in the context of strong site and year effects. The research established that native grasses and herbs were growing in three sites across California in four consecutive years. Planting practices and seed mixes were kept the same over the years. This helps to understand differences in restoration outcomes based only on site and year effects.

California grasslands

The results of the research indicated that the restoration outcomes can be highly variable across the volume of the place being studied and time, with community composition across the restoration plots differing substantially across planting years and sites. Grass species that were dominant in one part of the grasslands were negligibly present or completely absent in other parts of the grassland.

Restoration techniques are therefore drastically different in each place depending on the factors that affect each ecosystem. However, the main cause of ecosystem disturbance is invasion from other species. Different ecosystems react differently to a foreign invader, and it depends greatly on the biodiversity in the ecosystem. If the ecosystem has a rich inter species mix, it means that the foreign invader would be eradicated naturally, whether the cause of invasion was natural or anthropogenic. Such an ecosystem is called a self sustaining ecosystem and it is the level of achievement that ecological restoration practitioners strive towards. However if the ecosystem does not have that many species, the invading plant or animal can drastically invade the ecosystem, killing off many plants and animals that are netizens to the ecosystem. Such an ecosystem is unstable and will need multiple restorations to bring it to a stable state. Therefore it is very important to maintain the ecological balance of an ecosystem, because once out of balance, it can take years of hard work to rectify the situation.

Redefining Ecological Restoration In The 21st Century

Ecological Restoration

Ecological restoration was conceptualised over forty years ago, through the lens of natural science. However, ecological restoration has evolved over time, and has come to include a social and scientific concept. Even though ecological restoration presents itself as a duality in guidance documents on the subject, there is hardly a change in its definition. This viewpoint makes a weak argument towards those who are reluctant to acknowledge that ecological restoration is required at an ecologically weak point, and also does not give an appropriate amount of credit towards the contribution of social sciences.

social sciences

Ecological restoration is currently defined as the process of assisting the recovery of an ecosystem that has been degraded, damaged or destroyed by either natural or anthropogenic factors. This definition promotes the concept of restoring the environment in a particular way but it should be known that ecological restoration reaches farther than ecological recovery. How we view a concept affects our way of viewing it. It should be viewed in two layers: what restoration does and why we need it. Restoration of an ecosystem assists in the recovery of ecosystem conditions that in turn maintain ecological function, process and structure. There is a popular quote that depicts why we need to restore an ecosystem: “People do not buy what you do, they buy why you did it”. Ecological restoration practitioners need to have a clear idea as to what they are trying to do if they want more people to practice what they do. The approach towards ecological restoration needs to change in order to meet modern scientific and public enquiry.

One of the ways to redefine ecological restoration is redefining the concept itself. As mentioned earlier, ecological restoration is a multi faceted study and pulls in a large number of factors, social, environmental and even psychological. So an alternative definition to ecological restoration would be : “Ecological restoration can be defined as the process that assists the recovery of a degraded, damaged, or destroyed ecosystem to reflect values regarded as inherent in the ecosystem and provide goods and services that people value”.

Ecological restorations

This definition remains faithful to the guidelines and core concepts as presented by the previous definition and other guideline documents. Similarly, by acknowledging the potential for ecological restoration to foster values that inherently resonate with people and conventional utilitarian values, it is flexible to cover all of the motivating rationales that people embrace to restore.  This includes the rationales of conservation organizations whose vision and mission statements have come to include social dimensions, private corporations, indegenous groups, state and federal agencies, and thousands of vpaid practitioners and volunteers from all over the world.

Theoretical Concepts Related To Ecological Restoration

Restoration

Ecological restoration is the process by which an activity is induced into the ecosystem which leads to the initiation or acceleration of the recovery process of the ecosystem with respect to its health, integrity and sustainability. A wide range of projects are available for ecological restoration such as reforestation, erosion control, removal of non-native species, weeds, revegetation of disturbed areas, reintroduction of native species, daylight streams, and habitat and range improvement for targeted species. There are a lot of terms used in ecological restoration that are quite relevant to the process.

Disturbance

A disturbance is a change in environmental conditions that disrupts the overall functioning of an ecosystem. Disturbance can occur at different scales, both spatial and temporal, and is a natural component of many communities. However, the severity and scope of human involvement has increased over the past few decades. Differentiating between natural and anthropogenic disturbances can help understand how to restore the environment.

Disturbance

Succession

The change in a community that occurs over time, especially following a disturbance is called ecological succession. In most instances, an ecosystem will change from a simple level of organization with a few dominant pioneer species to an increasingly complex community or network of communities with several interdependent species. Restoration of an ecosystem usually involves accelerating this process depending on the severity of the disturbance.

Fragmentation

Spatial disturbances in a biological system where ecosystems are broken into smaller fragments through land use changes and natural disturbance is called habitat fragmentation. This not only increases the degree of isolation between the members of the ecosystem, but also reduces the size of the population. Fragmentation can lead to a degradation of the quality of the habitat.

Fragmentation

Ecosystem Function

Ecosystem function is a term used to describe the most basic and essential foundational processes of any natural system, including energy fluxes and nutrient cycles. The complexity of the ecosystem function must be understood thoroughly to address any ecological process that may be degraded. They are an emergent function of the ecosystem on a whole, thus monitoring and management of the ecosystem are essential for their long term stability. The ultimate aim of ecological restoration is a completely self sustaining and fully functional ecosystem.

Community Assembly

The term community assembly is used to refer to a  framework that can virtually unify all of ecology under one single conceptual umbrella. It attempts to explain the existence of environmentally similar sites with different biodiversity. If all the species are more or less ecologically equivalent, then random variation of colonization and migration, extinction rates of species, drive differences in species composition between sites with comparable environmental conditions. The theory assumes that community formation is a result of random fluctuations from a common species pool.

Causes of Ecosystem Damage and Its Restoration

Ecosystem

A day across the city can put on clear display the primary sources of ecosystem damage. Plants, animals, and human beings are a part of the ecosystem that needs saving. Even the beautiful seascapes and landscapes form this whole picture of a planet that fosters life. But it is the most intelligent beings that have led to the destruction of the environment. Human activities leave massive carbon footprints, damaging the equilibrium of nature. Without every pillar of a safe ecosystem being intact, the standards will fall drastically to affect all the living beings. Various factors contribute to the extinction of certain species and further destruction of habitat. Let us look at some of the causes of ecosystem damage and its effective restoration measures.

Causes of Ecosystem Damage

Causes of Ecosystem Damage

·         Pollution

This is one of the major reasons for the decline of health in all living beings. Depletion of resources leads to pollution, and it also can affect the local animal populations. Carbon emissions, pesticides, and oil spills are the most common sources of pollution.

·         Climate Change

As the decades are passing by and the world is melting due to the heat, people are experiencing the worst phase. Climate change is still one of the main factors causing ecosystem damage. Increased temperatures and unnatural levels of acidity in oceans and seas are the effects of global warming.

·         Deforestation

With the increase in demand for more land, deforestation rose significantly. Many ecosystems have been wiped out due to these activities, leading to a dearth of natural resources.

·         Population Imbalance

Another major factor affecting the balance of the ecosystem is the extinction of several species of animals and plants. Humans hunt down animals and simply cut down trees for personal uses, conveniently overlooking the need to maintain the balance of nature.

Solutions to the Damage

·         Stop Shedding of Trees

The first thing every community must practice is lesser reliance on natural resources. Wood and animals are essential resources, but they shouldn’t be exhausted. It is our duty to stop deforestation as much as possible. We cannot afford to cut down the trees anymore as the planet is on the verge of annihilation. Afforestation must be practiced and promoted across the globe to fill the lands with more greenery for every living being to find its own habitat.

·         Fines or Punishment

Every illegal activity must be charged with a fine or punished for. The adverse ecological consequences are caused by human activities; so, government regulations have to be changed to stop the people practicing deforestation and other acts of vandalism.

·        Do Your Part

Every small action can act as the fundamental piece to a greater future. The activities you can get involved in are repairing creek beds, wetlands, and other habitats. You could also eradicate invasive growths, plan rain gardens, replace turf grass with natural species, and monitor your nearby habitats to ensure the safety of the plants.

Environmental Restoration: Simple Tips

Restoration

Millions of people are constantly reading on the Internet that the environment is on the verge of collapse. The fossil fuels have been successfully depleted, and they are going to last another 40 years, maximum. We should start relying on renewable resources of energy like solar energy, wind energy and hydro energy. Students are also constantly learning in that losses that the environment is suffering. But, many schools fail to teach students what they should do to help restore the environment. They tell them not to litter, but they do not tell them to plant trees whenever they can. In this guide, I will be talking about some of the easiest and simplest tips that you can try in your life to make sure that you are contributing to the restoration of a damaged environment and ecosystem.

 

We do not want to leave a dying world to our children, do we?

We need to make sure that the essence of planet earth is protected. Freshwater should be clean, the forests should be protected, and they should be restored. Forest fires have destroyed millions of acres of forests. We should do everything we can to plant more trees; this is going to benefit us as well. If we plant more trees, they are going to produce more oxygen which is beneficial to us. They will reduce the pollution in the air that we create. Air-pollution is one of the biggest and most harmful problems that we are facing, today.

Here are some things that we can try doing, in our everyday lives.

How about we start re-using our grocery bags? Plastic grocery bags are one of the biggest things that pose as a problem in our oceans. People go and dump garbage in the oceans, and it gets mixed up with the food and animals misconstrue it as food. They swallow these plastic bags, and they choke on it. Plastic is the reason for the death of millions of animals every single year. Let us do our part and start using cloth bags every time we shop for groceries.

Make sure that you recycle whatever you can. Recycling is definitely a very simple thing to do, and the government has taken some steps toward recycling. We can start throwing things in the recycling bin, things that can be recycled. Companies like Apple Inc are striding when it comes to being a green company and recycling.

Environmental Restoration

We can also start saving electricity by placing solar cells on top of our homes.

How about we start using green energy? If we have is the energy of sunlight with the help of solar cells, we will be saving tons of energy.

How Can We Responsibly Restore The Environment?

Environment

Because of the destructive and disastrous activities of human beings, the environment is on the verge of a major collapse. If you look outside, in a lot of countries, the air has become disastrously polluted. For example, the air quality in cities like Mumbai and New Delhi, in India or hazardous and very difficult to breathe in. Because of the negligent and pathetic activities of human beings, the environment is gravely suffering. Global warming is one of the most significant issues that the earth is facing, and our leaders are refusing to acknowledge them. People like Donald Trump, the President of the United States of America, believe that global warming is a hoax. When we have world leaders who have no idea what the earth is going through, it is bound to lead to catastrophe.

The use of chemicals and the cutting down of trees in a rampant manner has led to the creation of very fragile ecosystems. We also continue to dump garbage in the ocean. The amount of garbage in the ocean is not to be ignored. It affects the wildlife, and it destroys the quality of the water. Millions of animals die by consuming garbage; that is why this has to be stopped.

Environment

We should do whatever we can to make sure that our ways are changed.

Firstly, we can start by restoring the water. Water is our most sacred resource, and we should treat it so. We should stop dumping of garbage in the ocean. We should incinerate any garbage that will not produce harmful fumes. Singapore is doing this. They incinerate all the garbage and the fumes that come out or actually good for the environment. We should also stop the pollution of our rivers. Rivers are a source of fresh water, and we should do everything we can to make sure that they are clean. Freshwater is a resource, and it should be treated so.

The years 2019 and 2020 saw the destruction of millions of acres of forest, because of wildfires and forest fires. We should do the right thing and start the restoration of forests. We should do everything we can to restore the millions of trees that were burnt down, because of human negligence. Almost 500,000,000 animals have lost their lives, because of the wildfires which were out of control. Even the air quality in places like Los Angeles and many other places in California have become dangerous, because of the smoke from the fires.

We should also do everything we can to restore the grasslands. Grasslands are rapidly disappearing, especially in places like the United States of America. Fish and wildlife services are trying to restore the grasslands, and we should do everything we can to do the same.

3 Reasons Why Restoring Nature is Important

Nature

The global phenomenon of ecosystem degradation is changing the face of the planet. Around 95% of the Earth’s land is expected to degrade by 2050 as the actions of humans are only sucking the soul out of the other living beings. It is indeed one form of self-destruction because people are hurting themselves over a long period by killing the trees and the animals that form the other half of the planet. A cycle spanning over many years exists for every living being, and it needs to be maintained in order to sustain life on Earth. UN summits and other global discussions have only led to further confusion regarding the implementation of the developed strategies.

Although people are being provided with information about the declining state of the planet, no conscious efforts seem to have been put to rescue the endangered. Pledges have been taken, but none of them have been kept. Ambitious plans ate yet to be executed to their fullest potential. Many of them are left to be taken over by oblivion, mainly due to the ignorance of human beings. Let us look at the reasons why you need to restore nature.

1.      Healthy Soils are Essential

If the food system has to follow an unbreakable cycle, we need to have healthy soils. Plants can be revived and made to grow more for better yield only if the soil is good enough. Degraded soils will not provide the plants or trees with enough nutrients to flourish. Healthy soils can be defined as those that have a plethora of fungi, microbes and maintain a great relationship with the environment. Only when the microscopic organisms are present in abundance will the soil thrive on fighting diseases. When soils are left to be degraded, you are not only allowing the ecosystem to be disturbed but also is depriving many living beings of food. So, reviving soils is key to sustaining the lives of plants and animals alike.

Healthy Soils

2.      A Failed Relationship

As we expand through population and culture assimilation, the relationship with nature has formed huge chasms. The ecological conditions are only exacerbating to affect the livestock. Pure oxygen isn’t available in large amounts anymore. None of this will get better unless we reconcile with nature and seal those gaps. We need to reverse the crises faced by the planet, and it is only possible through scientific and political interventions.

3.      The Inculcation of a Bad Culture

The lands have found a strong connection with the indigenous culture that new principles are lackluster in forming this bond. When novel ideas and language are used to deal with environmental issues, nature can react in the most unexpected ways. The indigenous culture is vital to the sustenance of many ecosystems all over the world. In order to protect the livelihoods of indigenous people, the support system has to be designed by pertaining to the accepted standards of environmental equilibrium.

The Benefits of Ecological Restoration

Ecological

To co-exist in this world is the target we have been assigned with, but that seems to have been forgotten. Our planet degenerates with time to provide you with only the worst conditions to live in. All these effects have resulted from the actions of humans. Unless serious efforts are put by people to revitalize the environment, the greenery will soon fade out. As the ecosystem is being damaged with time, it is the duty of every human being to contribute to the restoration. Having the natural state of things to breathe fresh air is a blessing the current generation has been deprived of.

People have been badly doomed due to their own activities. It is high time to act in favor of the planet so that life sustains for a long time. By taking the necessary steps to restore habitats, the benefits aren’t reaped by the humans alone but also by the animals and plants. If you wish to see the advancements in every sector and live for many more years, you need to step out of your house and get in action before the clock ticks out of time. Let us look at some of the benefits of ecological restoration.

1.      Co-Existence of Plants

Not all species can grow in the loose soil; the same goes for every other type of soil. Non-native species haven’t found a ground to grow in the regions occupied by the native species that have acclimated to the conditions. With your attempts to restore the environment, many plants can be grown together without being affected by weeds or such creepers. When you are all set to open a place that can incorporate all the necessary features, all you need to do is gather the essential natural products for better growth.

Plants

2.      Original Habitat Restoration

Preserving the space for the growth of all species is the target you have to achieve with this endeavor. Original habitats are required for every species to find a comfortable region to extract the essential nutrients to abundant produce. As you get involved in certain activities related to restoration, you are being a part of the bigger picture that forms the ecosystem, further helping in the preservation of various species and original habitats.

3.      Less Post-Planting Involvement Required

If you focus on improving the environment by infusing more greenery into your surroundings, there isn’t much you need to do after the initial process of planting the saplings. You wouldn’t need to spend time on fertilization and such stages with native plant use.

Planting Involvement

4.      Prevents Loss of Habitat

When you plant shrubs or saplings, you are providing an ecosystem for that particular species to grow. As many lands are being cleared and burnt down for commercial purposes, many plants do not have conducive conditions to produce a good yield. By taking the necessary steps, you will also be preventing the loss of habitat of such species.

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