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Integrating restoration and conservation within the ecosystem approach

The Society for Ecological Restoration International (SER) released its May 2008 Briefing Note on the “Opportunities for Integrating Ecological Restoration & Biological Conservation within the Ecosystem Approach” at the Convention on Biological Diversity’s Ninth Conference of the Parties held in Bonn, Germany, May 19-30, 2008

The SER Briefing Note states that the Ecosystem Approach, as developed by the CBD and others, provides us with a comprehensive framework where ecological restoration and biological conservation represent key support beams. George Gann, SER’s Chair, argues that “as habitat destruction increases and the effects of climate change continue to accelerate, conservation alone is no longer sufficient in protecting the health and continuity of many species”.

The Briefing Note calls attention to the complementary roles of ecological restoration and biological conservation, and their potential for integration within a unified ecosystem approach. According to Keith Bowers, SER’s Vice Chair, “large-scale conservation planning is now taking into account the important role of ecological restoration in preserving biodiversity, whether it is restoring critical elements of the landscape matrix or entire habitats from the ground up”.

In the United States, two statewide conservation plans have been built around ecological restoration principles: the New Mexico Forest and Watershed Health Plan and the Statewide Strategy for Restoring Arizona’s Forests. Ultimate success will depend on avoiding top-down approaches by consulting with all stakeholders (e.g. private landowners, indigenous peoples, and government agencies) from planning to implementation and monitoring.

According to Jim Harris, SER’s Science and Policy Working Group Chair, “there is an increasing awareness of the fundamental interdependencies linking biodiversity and ecosystem services however the precise relationships between the protecting diversity and human well-being are not yet clearly understood or quantified, and require further research and a precautionary approach”.

Collaborative efforts between those working in the fields of restoration and conservation, specifically utilizing an integrated ecosystem approach, will yield synergies needed to effectively deal with the daunting challenges of preserving biodiversity while simultaneously improving human livelihoods.

MK LeFevour | EurekAlert!
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