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Successful ecological restoration must meet more robust standards


Dead trees and woody debris in a forest clearing In 2008, Argentina and Chile signed a binational agreement to restore the tens of thousands of acres that have been impacted in the Tierra del Fuego region by invasive North American beavers, as shown here. Photo by A.E.J. Valenzuela.

Feb. 15, 2016 – In a succession of international agreements, governments worldwide have pledged to restore degraded ecosystems to address climate change. “In spite of this clear consensus, there have been no clear standards or protocols that managers can use,” said Adjunct Professor Chris Anderson, a socioecologist at the Austral Center for Scientific Research in Argentina.

To maximize such benefits as conserved biodiversity and sustained livelihoods, ecological restoration should increase ecological integrity, be sustainable in the long term, be informed by the past and future, and benefit and engage society. Adherence to these four principles will add clarity, accountability, and accomplishment in this new era of embracing ecological restoration as an environmental policy tool, Anderson and his co-authors write in a study published in Science. “Initiatives that emphasize one principle over the full suite are not true restoration — and therefore are insufficient to address restoration goals.”

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