3.3.5: Ecosystem Restoration - Biology

3.3.5: Ecosystem Restoration - Biology

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Ecosystem restoration is the process of bringing an area back to its natural state, before it was impacted through destructive human activities. It holds considerable promise as a mechanism for maintaining or restoring biodiversity and reinstating ecosystem services. It requires a broad interdisciplinary approach involving many different scientific fields of study (for example, biology, ecology, hydrology and geology). Reintroducing wolves, a top predator, to Yellowstone National Park in 1995 led to dramatic changes in the ecosystem that increased biodiversity. The wolves (figure (PageIndex{a})) function to suppress elk and coyote populations and provide more abundant resources to the detritivores. Reducing elk populations has allowed revegetation of riparian areas (those along the banks of a stream or river), which has increased the diversity of species in that ecosystem. Reduction of coyote populations by wolves has increased the prey species previously suppressed by coyotes. In this ecosystem, the wolf is a keystone species, meaning a species that is instrumental in maintaining diversity within an ecosystem. Removing a keystone species from an ecological community causes a collapse in diversity. The results from the Yellowstone experiment suggest that restoring a keystone species effectively can have the effect of restoring biodiversity in the community. Ecologists have argued for the identification of keystone species where possible and for focusing protection efforts on these species. It makes sense to return the keystone species to the ecosystems where they have been removed.

Figure (PageIndex{a}): (a) The Gibbon wolf pack in Yellowstone National Park, March 1, 2007, represents a keystone species. The reintroduction of wolves into Yellowstone National Park in 1995 led to a change in the grazing behavior of (b) elk. To avoid predation, the elk no longer grazed exposed stream and riverbeds, such as (c) the Lamar Riverbed in Yellowstone. This allowed willow and cottonwood seedlings to grow. The seedlings decreased erosion and provided shading to the creek, which improved fish habitat. A new colony of (d) beaver may also have benefited from the habitat change. (credit a: modification of work by Doug Smith, NPS; credit c: modification of work by Jim Peaco, NPS; credit d: modification of work by “Shiny Things”/Flickr)

Other large-scale restoration experiments underway involve dam removal. In the United States, since the mid-1980s, many aging dams are being considered for removal rather than replacement because of shifting beliefs about the ecological value of free-flowing rivers. The measured benefits of dam removal include restoration of naturally fluctuating water levels (often the purpose of dams is to reduce variation in river flows), which leads to increased fish diversity and improved water quality (see Dams and Reservoirs for more about the impact of dams). In the Pacific Northwest of the United States, dam removal projects are expected to increase populations of salmon, which is considered a keystone species because it transports nutrients to inland ecosystems during its annual spawning migrations. In other regions, such as the Atlantic coast, dam removal has allowed the return of other spawning anadromous fish species (species that are born in fresh water, live most of their lives in salt water, and return to fresh water to spawn). Some of the largest dam removal projects have occurred recently, such as Elwha Dam on the Olympic Peninsula of Washington State (see the video below). The large-scale ecological experiments that these removal projects constitute will provide valuable data for other dam projects slated either for removal or construction.

Besides physical processes, socioeconomic factors must also be considered in a restoration project. Actions of humans have historically been important in shaping ecosystems, and are important in determining the success of restoration efforts. Because the cost to restore an individual site can involve millions of dollars, government support is a necessity.

Environmental Remediation

Danger to human health from both historic and modern pollution requires that cleanup measures be implemented. Remediation is aimed at neutralization, containment, and/or removal of the polluting chemicals. The goal is to prevent the spread of the pollution, or to reduce it to levels that will not appreciably risk human health. Many times, it is physically impossible or financially unfeasible to completely clear all contamination. Often, experts and the public disagree on how clean is clean enough.

Many communities are struggling to find the funds and technological expertise needed to clean up polluted areas. Some settings, such as brownfields, can be remediated fairly easily. Brownfields are abandoned industrial or commercial facilities or blighted urban areas that need to be cleansed of contamination before they can be redeveloped. Other areas, because of their size or the extreme toxicity of their contaminants, require very expensive, complex, and long-term remediation. Many of these have been designated as Superfund sites.

Superfund sites are areas with the most toxic contamination in the United States. The contamination may not only make the site itself too dangerous to inhabit, but often leaks toxic levels of pollutants into the surrounding soil, water, or air. An example of a Superfund site is Love Canal in Niagara Falls, New York (figure (PageIndex{b})). The canal was a chemical waste dump for many years, then in the 1950’s was covered with soil and sold to the city. Over time, many homes and a school were built over the former dump. In the 1970’s, heavy rains raised the water table and carried contaminants back to the surface. Residents noticed foul smells, and gardens and trees turned black and died. Soon after, rates of birth defects, cancer, and other illnesses began to rise sharply. In 1977, the State of New York and the federal government began remediation work. Buildings were removed, and all residents were bought out and relocated, contaminated deposits and soils were excavated, and remaining soils and groundwater were treated and sealed off to prevent further spread of the contamination. Remediation activities have now been completed at this site.

Figure (PageIndex{b}): Love Canal. Source: US Environmental Protection Agency

The type of pollution and the medium affected (air, water, or soil) determine remediation methods. Methods include incineration, absorption onto carbon, chemical methods, or bioremediation. Bioremediation is the use of plants, bacteria, or fungus to “digest” the contaminant to a non-toxic or less toxic form. All of these methods tend to be expensive and time-consuming.

Reclamation and Mitigation

Reclamation involves salvaging some features of a degraded habitat, but it may not restore the ecosystem fully (figure (PageIndex{c})). For example, instead of abandoning a mined area once resources have been collected, it can be reclaimed by planting vegetation, reshaping the landscape, and redirecting water flow. However the reclaimed land still lacks many features of the original ecosystem, such as complex topography, vegetation that took tens or hundreds of years to grow, soil quality, and an intricate network of streams.

Figure (PageIndex{c}): The Seneca Yoast coal once land has been cleared in preparation for mining (left) and after reclamation (right). Image by Peabody Energy, Inc. (CC-BY).

Sometimes, actions can be taken to avoid, reduce or compensate for the effects of environmental damage. Such mitigation efforts have been taken by the Army Corps of Engineers during construction projects. The native plants are removed from a site before construction begins and transplanted at a special holding site. After the construction project is completed, the native plants are replanted using those from the holding site. Another example of mitigation might involve the creation or enhancement of wetlands in one area, in order to compensate for permitted wetland losses in another area. Mitigation often goes hand-in-hand with restoration. Texaco, in conjunction with environmental groups and the United States Fish and Wildlife Service, restored 500 acres of agricultural lands in the lower Mississippi Delta to bottomland hardwoods. Texaco received environmental credits for the mitigating effects of the new woodlands on air quality.

As the world’s population continues past the 7 billion mark, the demands and pressure on the natural world increases the threats to the survival of plant species and the role they play in ecological functions, goods and services. More and more wild places are becoming destroyed and degraded and unable to provide the support for life on earth.

Ecosystem restoration is the process of actively managing the recovery of an ecosystem that has been degraded, damaged or destroyed. It is a conscious intervention based on traditional or local knowledge and scientific understanding. Its goal is to restore ecosystems to be resilient and self-sustaining with respect to their structure and functional properties.

Humans have transformed 50% of the land surface area of our planet, mainly for crop and livestock production.

Motivations for the Restoration of Ecosystems

A. F. Clewell, Inc., 5351 Gulf Drive Suite 5, Holmes Beach, FL 34217-1754, U.S.A.

Centre d'Ecologie Fonctionnelle et Evolutive, U.P.R. 5175, C.N.R.S., 1919, Route de Mende, 34293 Montpellier, France, email [email protected]

A. F. Clewell, Inc., 5351 Gulf Drive Suite 5, Holmes Beach, FL 34217-1754, U.S.A.

Centre d'Ecologie Fonctionnelle et Evolutive, U.P.R. 5175, C.N.R.S., 1919, Route de Mende, 34293 Montpellier, France, email [email protected]


Abstract: The reasons ecosystems should be restored are numerous, disparate, generally understated, and commonly underappreciated. We offer a typology in which these reasons—or motivations—are ordered among five rationales: technocratic, biotic, heuristic, idealistic, and pragmatic. The technocratic rationale encompasses restoration that is conducted by government agencies or other large organizations to satisfy specific institutional missions and mandates. The biotic rationale for restoration is to recover lost aspects of local biodiversity. The heuristic rationale attempts to elicit or demonstrate ecological principles and biotic expressions. The idealistic rationale consists of personal and cultural expressions of concern or atonement for environmental degradation, reengagement with nature, and/or spiritual fulfillment. The pragmatic rationale seeks to recover or repair ecosystems for their capacity to provide a broad array of natural services and products upon which human economies depend and to counteract extremes in climate caused by ecosystem loss. We propose that technocratic restoration, as currently conceived and practiced, is too narrow in scope and should be broadened to include the pragmatic rationale whose overarching importance is just beginning to be recognized. We suggest that technocratic restoration is too authoritarian, that idealistic restoration is overly restricted by lack of administrative strengths, and that a melding of the two approaches would benefit both. Three recent examples are given of restoration that blends the technocratic, idealistic, and pragmatic rationales and demonstrates the potential for a more unified approach. The biotic and heuristic rationales can be satisfied within the contexts of the other rationales.


Resumen: Las razones por la que los ecosistemas deben ser restaurados son numerosas, dispares, generalmente poco sustentadas, y comúnmente poco apreciadas. Ofrecemos una tipología en la que estas razones—o motivaciones—son ordenadas entre cinco razonamientos: tecnocrático, biótico, heurístico, idealista y pragmático. El razonamiento tecnocrático se refiere a la restauración que es llevada a cabo por agencias gubernamentales u otras grandes organizaciones para satisfacer misiones y mandatos institucionales específicos. El razonamiento biótico de la restauración es la recuperación de aspectos perdidos de la biodiversidad local. El razonamiento heurístico intenta extraer o demostrar principios ecológicos y expresiones bióticas. El razonamiento idealista consiste de expresiones personales y culturales de la preocupación o reparación de la degradación ambiental, reencuentro con la naturaleza y/o cumplimiento espiritual. El razonamiento pragmático busca recuperar o reparar ecosistemas por su capacidad de proporcionar una amplia gama de servicios y productos naturales de la que dependen las economías humanas y para contrarrestar extremos en el clima causados por la pérdida de ecosistemas. Proponemos que la restauración tecnocrática, como se concibe y practica actualmente, es muy corta en su alcance y debiera ampliarse para incluir al razonamiento pragmático, cuya importancia apenas comienza a ser reconocida. Sugerimos que la restauración tecnocrática es demasiado autoritaria, que la restauración idealista esta muy restringida por la falta de fortalezas administrativas, y que una mezcla de los dos enfoques podría beneficiar a ambas. Proporcionamos tres ejemplos recientes de restauración que combinan los razonamientos tecnocrático, idealista y pragmático y demuestran el potencial para un enfoque más unificado. Los razonamientos biótico y heurístico pueden ser satisfechos en el contexto de los otros razonamientos.

  • CSU has one of the few stand-alone Restoration Ecology majors in the nation.
  • The restoration ecology field emerged in the late 1970s and CSU has been at the forefront ever since.
  • You can join the Society for Ecological Restoration student organization’s quest to plant one million trees.
  • There is a growing demand for experts in restoration ecology as ecosystems continue changing rapidly.
  • The United Nations declared a decade of ecosystem restoration from 2021-2030. You can become part of a global movement.

You’ll become well versed in the biological, physical and ecological science foundation of restoration ecology for damaged forest and rangeland ecosystems. Practice repairing and renewing our natural areas using ecological processes and human intervention.

As a student in the Ecological Restoration, Bachelor of Science program, you’ll receive a solid foundation of the skills, knowledge, and experiences required to meet today’s many natural resource management and ecosystem restoration challenges.

Your learning experiences will be unique with much of the learning done through hands-on field applications involving actual ecological restoration initiatives. You will also be involved in group and individual projects, case studies, class presentations, guest lectures by active restoration specialists, laboratory sessions, field labs and an applied research project.

Program matrix

This is a course in advanced composition and rhetoric, in which students will develop skills in complex critical analysis and interpretation by analyzing and evaluating materials from a variety of discourses or genres, including visual, online, and print developing and writing essays, including critiques and research papers applying and discussing principles of rhetoric and critical theory examining and using methods of interpretation and analysis from the humanities and social sciences evaluating the credibility of primary and secondary sources, including as it applies to media literacy, and for the purposes of academic research situating discourses within their historical context and relevant to rhetorical theories of different periods (for example, Aristotle in the ancient world and Bakhtin in the twentieth century). The course format will include lecture, discussion, and both individual and group activities.
Prerequisite(s): BCIT ENGL 1177 or (equivalent), OR 6 credits BCIT Communication at 1100-level or above.

​This course covers basic principles of chemistry. The major topics are atomic structure, nomenclature, stoichiometry, redox reactions, and electrochemistry. Additional material includes chemical bonding, solutions, neutralization and solubility of compounds. The importance of precipitation reactions for the treatment of water and wastewater will also be examined. Prerequisite: Acceptance into the Ecological Restoration degree program or by departmental approval.
Prerequisite(s): ​Acceptance into the Ecological Restoration degree program or by departmental approval.

The first part of the course provides students with a solid foundation in fisheries management with a focus on British Columbia. This course emphasizes fish identification, fish measurements, ichthyology, life history, basic biological features, fisheries management issues (e.g., mark recapture, stock recruitment), fish culture and fisheries techniques. The second part of the course covers the principles and practice of wildlife ecology and management with particular emphasis on inventory protocols and species at risk in BC. Topics include: biology and ecology of wildlife species dynamics of wildlife populations methods of studying wildlife natural and artificial regulation of animal numbers control of problem wildlife evaluation and enhancement of wildlife habitats management for harvest. Field sessions outside of scheduled class time will be required.

This course is specifically designed to provide students hands-on training and application of techniques used to monitor and sample the environment and to initiate restoration methods, with an emphasis on stream and riparian habitat. Techniques will include calibration, operation, and storage of water-sampling equipment, including: multi-parameter meters, flow meters, turbidity meters, and protocols for collecting water samples for lab analysis, etc. Proper setup and use of survey equipment will be taught with hands-on field sessions. Proper log- and rock-cabling techniques will be illustrated using hammer drills and epoxy and various cabling techniques. Level I fish habitat assessment procedures will be taught, as well as stability assessment of in-stream large wood structures. Field labs will integrate the use of digital field mapping equipment and techniques for inventories and assessments. Electrofishing and fish snorkel survey procedures may be included. A strong emphasis will be placed on field safety protocols and establishing safety plans and procedures, with appropriate documentation. Course design will include modules that need to be completed before class, to enhance the hands-on training. Modules included in the class may vary among years.
Prerequisite(s): ​Acceptance into the Ecological Restoration degree program or by departmental approval.

Designed as an introduction to ecological restoration (ER) for those with little background in this field, this course develops knowledge and skills needed to plan and implement restoration activities. The course describes the process for developing, implementing, monitoring, and refining on-the-ground restoration projects. The course begins by introducing the process of ER and common restoration techniques, with frequent reference to specific examples explored in class and on field trips. Students will expand and assess their knowledge of ER by critically reviewing several restoration plans. The main component of the course entails students working in small groups to develop a restoration plan for a degraded site in the Greater Vancouver area. Finally, lab time will focus on digital data concepts and techniques that enhance restoration planning, including: familiarizing students with sources and types of geospatial data, creating and managing digital data, and using GIS to analyze and present digital data.
Prerequisite(s): ​Acceptance into the Ecological Restoration degree program or by departmental approval.

​This course will explore the historical and contemporary relationship between First Nations and the physical environment, particularly in British Columbia. The course will give a detailed overview of the history of First Nations from both a national and provincial perspective. It will also examine the various federal acts that have impacted aboriginal peoples socially and politically. The course will explore the treaty process in British Columbia and look at Aboriginal self-government, ownership of lands and the management of natural resources. Through case studies and team projects, the course will explore the working relationship between First Nations, various levels of government and private industry particularly with respect to Traditional Ecological Knowledge, environmental management and sustainability issues. Prerequisite ​Acceptance into the Ecological Restoration degree program or by departmental approval.

The goals of this course are to provide the student with the skills needed to solve and understand problems relating to data analysis that will be encountered in the renewable resource and environmental areas. Considerable emphasis will be placed on the application to analysis of real-life problems, technical and journal articles, the presentation and analysis of data using statistical and spreadsheet software. Class assignments will be given that require critical thinking, communication and explanation of results through verbal presentation and report writing. This course includes the following course content: (1) Hypothesis testing and goodness-of-fit testing using t, z, F, and chi-squared statistics (2) Bivariate data analysis using linear models, including log transformation, parameter estimation, and hypothesis testing (3) Analysis of variance (4) Non-parametric statistical analysis (5) Collection of data and development of databases (6) Appropriate use of graphical displays (7) Experimental design, including completely random designs and randomized complete block designs.
Prerequisite(s): MATH 2453

This course provides an overview of key biological topics relevant to the field of ecosystem restoration and conservation biology. Topics will include: the chemistry of life, including the structure and function of macromolecules, cell structures and membranes, the gene (meiosis, Mendelian genetics, chromosomes and inheritance), and evolution.
Prerequisite(s): Acceptance into the Ecological Restoration degree program or by departmental approval.

This course covers the history, purpose and methods of environmental impact assessment (EIA). The purpose and an overview of approaches to EIA are presented and the Environmental Assessment Act of BC will be used as an example of environmental assessment (EA) policy and procedure.. Environmental assessment procedures according to Canadian Standards Association (CSA) will also be discussed. Examples of EA in other jurisdictions (e.g., USA, South America, et al.) will be reviewed. Methods and techniques for assessing environmental impacts and actions, such as avoidance, mitigation, reclamation or restoration, are surveyed and critically examined through class discussions, guest speakers and case studies.
Prerequisite(s): Acceptance into the Ecological Restoration degree program or by departmental approval.

This course will provide an overview of the principles of ecological restoration and sustainability as they relate to industrial ecology (forestry, mining, oil and gas, agriculture, hydro-electric power), ecological restoration and succession, and urban world issues (e.g., climate change and sustainability). Case studies involving "real life" restoration scenarios will be examined to gain knowledge on issues and insights to problems and strategies for balancing environmental, social, and economic perspectives for each of the land development, resource extraction and climate change categories. Ecological restoration will also be discussed in the perspective of it being one of several options for responding to disturbance or degradation of ecosystems and to ensure sustainability objectives.
Prerequisite(s): RENR 7002

Population ecology is concerned with the structure and dynamics of populations. Community ecology is concerned with the interactions of populations with each other and their abiotic environment. Both are crucial for understanding ecosystems and to provide a scientific basis for ecological restoration projects. The course covers population and community-level ecology for terrestrial and aquatic plants and animals that are pertinent to ecological restoration. Topics include the concept of individual fitness, individual behaviour, population dynamics, competition within and among species, predation, parasitism, symbiosis and trophic processes. The use of appropriate sampling methods and application of theories of population and community dynamics are practiced and discussed, using a variety of case studies. Field sessions outside of scheduled class time will be required.
Prerequisite(s): RENR 7001

This course provides an outline of the physical processes that control how watersheds function it provides the necessary geophysical link with biology required to successfully plan, undertake and complete ecological restoration. Both terrestrial and fluvial processes are considered. Because these processes require understanding of general geoscience principals, this course includes selected basic introduction to earth science concepts. The first section of the course covers general earth science principals leading into terrain assessment, including a wide range of terrain attributes, with mapping and related interpretations such as landslide and erosion hazards from the point of view of the map user and according to current provincial (British Columbia) standards. Topics covered include an overview of watershed assessment approaches, morphetmetry, hydrogeological concepts, surficial materials and landforms, principles of soil physical behaviour (e.g., drainage and strength), terrain map symbols, terrain survey intensity levels, engineering characteristics of surficial materials (soils), landslide and other slope processes, and the reliability and limitations of terrain and slope stability mapping. The second section, dealing with fluvial processes, covers applicable provincial and federal legislation as well as collection and interpretation of stream channel data. Other topics will include: the provincial Channel Assessment Procedure and the effects of land use on stream channel, gully and alluvial fan morphology, and channel restoration strategies.
Prerequisite(s): EENG 7217

Terrestrial Ecosystem Restoration covers the principles (science) and practice (art) of restoration of terrestrial ecosystems with particular reference to problems and procedures in the Pacific Northwest and BC. The course focuses on a regional overview of the biogeography and environmental history of the Pacific Northwest. The process of ecological restoration, from goal setting and project planning through to monitoring and adaptive management will be discussed. Intensive examination of ecological restoration of the major ecosystems of the region will be conducted, along with managing natural areas in urban environments, invasive species, climate change, and management at different scales. Students will use this information to design (and present to fellow students and clients) a restoration plan for a specific BC ecosystem, including: identifying a `degraded', `damaged', `destructed', or `transformed' ecosystem identify (through sampling and background research) their `reference ecosystem' setting goals and objectives design a restoration plan and monitoring (adaptive management) protocol and their planned public education activities.
Prerequisite(s): RENR 7001 and RENR 7100 and RENR 8201

​This course provides an overview of freshwater restoration techniques used primarily to mitigate losses of salmonid habitat and stocks. The lectures cover the BC Watershed Restoration Program restoration strategies used in the Pacific Northwest, some of which are new and innovative, while others have been used extensively over the last 100 years. Aspects of this course include DFO and Provincial Water Act regulatory requirements for works in about a stream, boulder placement, the use of salmonid biostandards, fish passage, development of off-channel habitats, restoration of spawning habitat, in-stream woody debris placement and stream enrichment. The course includes 1/2 day field trips to North Vancouver to view degraded urban streams in various stages of restoration.
Prerequisite(s): RENR 7100 and RENR 8201

​Designed as the capstone to the Ecological Restoration Program, this is the first of a two-course series that entails students working in small groups to further develop knowledge and hands-on skills needed to plan and implement ecological restoration activities. This course entails student teams identifying sites on which to focus for the two-course series, as well as developing detailed site assessments and restoration goals/objectives.Projects must be approved by the instructors, though may focus on one or a combination of the steps critical to the restoration process (i.e., projects may focus on designing/planning, implementing, monitoring, or reviewing/assessing restoration). Students will submit multiple written documents for review. Class meetings will entail a variety of activities designed to complement project development.This course will emphasizes high levels of student responsibility in developing project goals and objectives. At regular intervals, instructors will provide assessment of progress. However, groups are strongly encouraged to communicate with instructors as often as needed about challenges and opportunities encountered.
Prerequisite(s): RENR 7007 and RENR 8301 and MATH 7100

The goal of Research Design and Implementation is to provide students with the tools and knowledge to effectively design, implement, and use research as the basis for making appropriate decisions in designing and implementing restoration activities. To meet this goal, we will discuss some fundamental concepts including: science, the scientific method, reliable knowledge, poor science, and experimental design. We'll examine how to ask 'why' questions, how to design appropriate research/monitoring plans to address these questions, and how to package this information (including project budgets) into an informative, scientifically-defensible proposal on a chosen ecological restoration activity. This course is designed to strengthen critical thinking skills when reviewing current information and when formulating new activities in ecological restoration. The course is a discussion-based course where concepts and ideas are discussed among the students and by the students.
Prerequisite(s): LIBS 7001

Fosters abilities and values required for ethical decision making at work. Develops skills in logical analysis, a working knowledge of moral principles and theories, and the ability to diagnose and resolve moral disagreements commonly found at work. Examines and applies moral principles to historically famous cases in manufacturing, human resources, management, engineering, health care, and computing.
Prerequisite(s): BCIT ENGL 1177, or 6 credits BCIT Communication at 1100-level or above, or 3 credits of a university/college first-year social science or humanities course.

Conservation biology is the science of biology that looks at human impacts on biological diversity and possible means to prevent extinction of native species. Topics to be covered in this course include: principles of conservation biology and biological diversity, biological diversity of British Columbia, value of biological diversity, threats to biological diversity, invasive species management, climate change and its impacts on ecosystems and biodiversity, species at risk, habitat loss and fragmentation, island biogeography theory, and the species area relationship as it relates to biodiversity conservation and the design and planning of protected areas. Field sessions outside of scheduled class time will be required.
Prerequisite(s): RENR 7100 and RENR 8001

​In conjunction with an industry sponsor, students will undertake a research project related to ecological restoration. The research project must contain elements that are innovative, experimental, or exploratory in nature. A department committee will supervise the progress of the project, provide guidance and direction where appropriate, and evaluate the final report. The goal of the course is to provide students with an opportunity to work independently on an industry sponsored applied research project. In doing so, students will learn to rely on their critical thinking and analysis skills to investigate, evaluate, synergize, develop, and implement a pragmatic approach toward solving an environmental research problem.
Prerequisite(s): RENR 8300

**Ecological Restoration Specific Electives

The course reviews and expands upon the fundamentals of fire science, documents the ecological role of fire in British Columbia’s terrestrial ecosystems and examines fire as a management tool for various applications, such as biodiversity, fuel management, wildlife habitat, and rehabilitation of degraded forest, range and other wildland ecosystems.
Prerequisite(s): RENR 7100 and RENR 7210

​This course covers the fundamentals of wetland and estuary form, function, classification and restoration in Canada. The wetland section of the course covers wetland classification, examines mechanisms of wetland loss and the importance of wetlands in storing carbon, and the physical, chemical and biological mechanisms by which constructed wetlands remove pollutants from urban storm water. The steps for building groundwater wetlands, surface water wetlands, wetlands with liners and floating surface wetlands will be examined, in addition to the steps for building and maintaining constructed wetlands. The estuary section of the course covers estuary classification, reviews the ecological importance of estuaries and reviews the physical, chemical and biological nature of estuaries. Procedures for restoring estuaries is covered, including dealing with invasive species (plant and animal) and legacy contaminants. The course will focus on re-establishing the carbon flux and storage in the estuaries through re-planting of sub tidal eelgrass, emergent sedges and strategic placement of large woody debris. Students will participate in a field trip to design a wetland for construction the following year, construct a wetland, or monitor the performance of a recently constructed wetland.
Prerequisite(s): RENR 7003

Restoration plans must take into account the needs of current or desired wildlife species in project areas. This course gives ecologists, restorationists, administrators, and other professionals involved with restoration projects the tools they need to understand essential ecological concepts, helping them to design restoration projects that can improve conditions for native species of wildlife. It also offers specific guidance and examples on how various projects have been designed and implemented. This course interweaves theoretical and practical aspects of wildlife biology that are directly applicable to the restoration and conservation of animals. It provides an understanding of the fundamentals of wildlife populations and wildlife-habitat relationships as it explores the concept of habitat, its historic development, components, spatial-temporal relationships, and role in land management. It applies these concepts in developing practical tools for professionals. The course is based on Morrison, M.L. 2009. (Restoring Wildlife: Ecological Concepts and Practical Applications) and Maehr et al. 2001 (Large Mammal Restoration), both published by Island Press, Washington, USA. Case studies will be used to illustrate concepts while field labs will train students on key concepts.
Prerequisite(s): RENR 7003

This course provides an introduction to river and stream morphology in the fluvial landscape, including the physical processes that control form and function of stream channels and the means of observing them. This is an applied stream channel morphology course, based on the first principals of geomorphology. The emphasis is on identifying the important river measurements, how they are obtained in the field, and how data are analyzed (including advantages and limitations). Objectives of this course are: to introduce the general topic of river and stream morphology in the fluvial landscape to introduce the main processes that occur in rivers/streams, and the means for observing them to develop a balanced, comprehensive appreciation of the commonly used techniques for analysis of river morphology and processes, as they are applied to restoration activities, and to introduce students to the advantages and limitations of commonly applied geomorphological techniques applied to restoration. This is a strongly field-based course, so attendance and active participation is required. Some labs will be conducted outside of regularly-scheduled class time.
Prerequisite(s): RENR 7003 and RENR 8201

Of all the ecosystems on earth, none has been more dramatically affected by humanity than native grasslands. Although native grasslands at one time covered 40% of the North American continent, the vast majority have been transformed into agricultural lands, urban settings, and other settlement uses, with less than 1% remaining today. Grasslands are recognized as one of BC’s most threatened ecosystems. Grasslands represent less than 1% of the provincial land base, making them more endangered than old-growth forests. However, BC’s grasslands account for 30% of our species at risk. This course will provide students with the tools to evaluate health of grassland habitats (old fields, native grasslands, and range lands), methods to assess grassland communities, and techniques to restore grassland habitats. This course will require multiday field trips on weekends to the interior of BC.
Prerequisite(s): RENR 7003

This course examines physical, chemical and biological processes that influence living organisms in inland waters. Both theoretical and applied aspects of limnology will be covered and their relationship to restoring degraded lake systems. A significant part of the course will be based on field exercises and assignments covering the applied aspects of lake limnology. Lecture material will emphasize the theoretical aspects of limnology, lake systems, and their application to restoration of degraded lake systems.
Prerequisite(s): RENR 7003

Transfer credit

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2820 SW Campus Way

Freshwater Fish Ecology. Salmonid behavior and habitat selection in freshwater and estuarine systems. Aquatic habitat restoration. Land use impacts on fish habitat. Integrated watershed management. Fish passage.

Stream ecosystems: channel dynamics, woody debris, water chemistry, benthic algae, invertebrates, fish, salamanders, and riparian vegetation. Landscape perspectives for stream ecosystems. Influence of human activities on ecosystem structure and function.

Aquatic Monitoring/Bioassessment Biogeochemistry Ecological Indicators.

Lake, Stream, and Wetland Biological Assessment and Monitoring

Interactions of ecosystems, land use, and climate change in wetlands and tropical forests (current emphasis is on mangroves and other coastal ecosystems, tropical swamp forests, and riparian zones). Riparian ecology and restoration. Approaches to climate change adaptation and mitigation.

Stream channel morphology and hydraulics.
Field methods for quantifying aquatic biota and habitat.
Natural & anthropogenic controls on aquatic habitat & biota.
Stream sediment transport and sediment effects on biota.

What is Ecological Restoration?

are dynamic communities of plants, animals, and microorganisms interacting with their physical environment as a functional unit.

These communities can be damaged, degraded, or destroyed by human activity.

Damage refers to an acute and obvious harmful impact upon an ecosystem such as selective logging, road building, poaching, or invasions of non-native species.

Degradation refers to chronic human impacts resulting in the loss of biodiversity and the disruption of an ecosystem’s structure, composition, and functionality. Examples include: long-term grazing impacts, long-term over fishing or hunting pressure, and persistent invasions by non-native species.

Destruction is the most severe level of impact, when degradation or damage removes all macroscopic life and commonly ruins the physical environment. Ecosystems are destroyed by such activities as land clearing, urbanization, coastal erosion, and mining.

Ecological restoration seeks to initiate or accelerate ecosystem recovery following damage, degradation, or destruction.

Restoration practitioners do not carry out the actual work of ecosystem recovery. Rather, they create the conditions needed for recovery so the plants, animals, and microorganisms can carry out the work of recovery themselves. Assisting recovery can be as simple as removing an invasive species or reintroducing a lost species or a lost function (like fire) or as complex as altering landforms, planting vegetation, changing the hydrology, and reintroducing wildlife.

The goal of ecological restoration is to return a degraded ecosystem to its historic trajectory, not its historic condition. The ecosystem may not necessarily recover to its former state since contemporary ecological realities, including global climate change, may cause it to develop along an altered trajectory, just as these same realities may have changed the trajectory of nearby undisturbed ecosystems. History plays an important role in restoration, but contemporary conditions must also be taken into consideration.

When is restoration complete?

Ecological restoration aims to re-establish a self-organizing ecosystem on a trajectory to reach full recovery. While restoration activities can often place a degraded ecosystem on an initial trajectory of recovery relatively quickly, full recovery of the ecosystem can take years, decades, or even hundreds of years. For example, while we can initiate a forest restoration process by planting trees, for full recovery to be achieved, the site should be a fully functioning forest with mature trees in the age-classes representative of a mature native forest. If there were 500-year-old trees in the forest that was destroyed, then the restoration should logically take hundreds of years to achieve full recovery. During that recovery period, unforeseen barriers to recovery may be encountered, or additional restoration activities may become possible at later stages of development. Thus, while individual restoration activities may be completed, in most cases the restoration process continues as the ecosystem recovers and matures.

Restoration is not a substitute for conservation.

While we can successfully restore biodiversity, structure, and function to a degraded ecosystem, ecological restoration is not a substitute for conservation, nor should the promise of restoration be used to justify destruction or unsustainable use. In reality, restoration may not succeed in re-establishing the full assemblage of native species or the full extent of the original ecosystem’s structure and function.

How to Rehabilitate and Restore Damaged Ecosystems

Damaged ecosystems are everywhere where people have built homes, developers have built condominiums and office building, and also where people drill for oil and extract precious resources. Today it is important to find solutions to restoring these damaged ecosystems back to natural habitats.

The answer to restoring and rehabilitating damaged ecosystems is working with nature. Nature heals. We can see this every day when we look at the cracks in walls and sidewalks where an interesting flower or weed as taken over. Nature takes over and takes care of itself if humans will let it. Also humans can help nature take care of itself by lending a hand. This way nature can rehabilitate and restore itself faster than letting nature takes its course.

Efforts have been ongoing of preservationists and environmentalists who take over lands that have lost their true nature. Research is done on how the ecosystem or habitat was in its original form. Most original ecosystems are composed of native grasses, plants, and trees. There are also native animals and birds that habitat in these areas. Once the ecology is restored to its original state, the process of native wildlife will also be restored, with sometimes original wildlife brought back to the area.

Prevention is however the best way to keep ecosystems safe without having to restore a damaged ecosystem, which might cost a lot of money. There is a huge cost involved in restoration. Costs might include the cost of seeds, replenishing the soil, restoring original water systems, etc.

Researching the area in question is a huge cost in itself. Before one can restore and rehabilitate an ecology, research must be done in order to know the true and original ecology of the area. Once research is done, plans have to be drawn up in order to initiate a complete restoration project. Labor is needed also, which might also involve cost if there aren’t enough volunteers. Just to recruit volunteers might also involve cost.

But prevention is the best way to eliminate restoration and rehabilitation by keeping the ecology the way it always was. So how do people prevent an ecology from being degraded. They don’t cut down trees and bushes. They don’t drill for oil and extract resources. They don’t develop wetlands.

Cutting down trees destroys habitats for animals and birds. Even removing too many dead trees destroys the habitat for insects and other small wild creatures. Cutting down trees also leads to soil erosion and desertification. Removing grasses and shrubs also leads to soil erosion and desertification. Nature operates on a natural system where each living organism works with every other living organism to create a fully sustainable environment of biodiversity and natural habitat.

Extracting too many natural resources such as oil and gas depletes the earth of its natural function. Developing wetlands totally destroys natural flood control, habitats for birds and other wildlife, and the pure drinking water that humans and animals need for survival.

Therefore, prevent the ecology from being degraded. Work together with others to make sure that natural ecosystems are not destroyed but also work with other people who care about the Earth to restore and rehabilitate ecosystems that have been destroyed.

Here is something to think about: The restoration and rehabilitation of huge rainforests. It might be impossible to research what was there before if it is destroyed before there is any research done on what was there before it was destroyed. There are so many new plants and species in rainforests that it is impossible to know what they were if they are removed before any investigative research is done.

Therefore it is highly imperative that natural ecosystems not be degraded or destroyed. It is also extremely important to restore and rehabilitate any ecosystems that were destroyed if at all possible.

Restoration can be done by letting nature take over and helping nature along with volunteers and dedicated people who care about the Earth.

Adeshola Adepoju

Restoration in action panel
Director general of the Forestry Institute of Nigeria (FRIN), Chair of the MAB International Coordinating Council

Dr Adeshola Olatunde Adepoju is the Director General of FRIN. He graduated with a PhD in Agricultural and Environment Economics in 2002 and then pursued a career in academia and management. He was a member of the Presidential Committee on the National Allanblackia project and served as liaison Officer of FRIN on budgeting, Inter-Ministerial Relations and Interface with the National Assembly. When he was appointed, he was Provost of the Federal College of Forestry, an educational institution under the aegis of FRIN. In 2020, he was elected Chair of the MAB Programme's International Coordinating Council.

Four reasons why restoring nature is the most important endeavor of our time

Credit: Gozha Net/Unsplash, FAL

Ecosystem degradation is a global phenomenon. It is expected that by 2050, 95% of Earth's land will be degraded. A whopping 24 billion tons of soil have already been eroded by unsustainable agricultural practices. This land degradation is the leading cause of losses of ecosystem functions such as nutrient cycling and climate regulation. These functions sustain life on Earth.

It is recognized that this constitutes a crisis. At a UN summit this September, more than 70 world leaders—bar those from the US, China or Brazil—signed the Leaders' Pledge for Nature, promising to clamp down on pollution, eliminate the dumping of plastic waste and strengthen environmental agreements worldwide. This is a good step, but as UN Deputy Secretary-General Amina Mohammed noted at the event, to "rescue the planet's fragile tapestry of life, we need vastly more ambition and action."

Next year will mark the start of the UN Decade on Ecosystem Restoration, aimed at addressing the enormous task of restoring degraded habitats across the planet. Against a backdrop of ecological crisis, this declaration is a chance to revive our life support system—the natural world. The UN has highlighted several important actions to empower a global restoration movement, such as investment in restoration and research, celebrating leadership, shifting behaviors and building up the next generation.

4.7 million hectares of forests are lost every year.

Ecosystems support all life on Earth. Protecting them can help end poverty, combat the climate crisis & prevent a mass extinction.

More from @UNEP: #GenerationRestoration #ForNature

— UNESCO (@UNESCO) October 4, 2020

There is no doubt this is an ambitious plan. But it must be translated into action. Such pledges can actually work against action by creating the illusion that something is being done. There is often a gap between rhetoric and reality. Indeed, the world's nations have failed to fully achieve any of the 20 global biodiversity targets set by the UN a decade ago. Humanity is at a crossroads. What we decide to do now will affect many future generations to come.

New research is constantly demonstrating the urgency of the situation. One recent study focusing on the consequences of indiscriminate deforestation, for example, suggests we have a less than 10% probability of surviving the next 20-40 years without facing a catastrophic collapse if we remain on our current trajectory.

Here, I summarize four key reasons why ecological restoration is the most important endeavor of our time. If we are to reverse the ecological crisis that we are currently facing, and protect biodiversity for itself and for future generations, we must turn pledges into immediate action and restore our ecosystems on a global level.

1. Healthy soils sustain life on Earth

Our food systems depend on healthy soils. The revival of plants, crops and forests depends on the revival of degraded soils. This depends on the restoration of the complex relationships between the soil, the plants and a plethora of microbes, including fungi, bacteria and viruses.

Healthy soils thrive with these microscopic lifeforms: they are essential for plant growth and protection against diseases. Soil degradation not only threatens the intrinsic value of the ecosystems, but also our ability to produce healthy and sustainable foods. And protecting and reviving our soils and their microbial friends is key not only for humans, but for the diverse yet declining plant and animal species that depend on them.

2. Our relationship with nature is failing

Ecosystem degradation is contributing to our failing relationship with nature: people's accepted view of ecological conditions are continually lowered, a phenomenon known as shifting baseline syndrome.

Fungi provide essential ecosystem services, yet are also on the decline. Credit: Jesse Dodds/Unsplash, FAL

Restoring our emotional connection to nature (known as "nature connectedness") is therefore important. People who feel more connected to nature are more likely to engage with actions such as wildlife conservation, recycling, and supporting environmental organizations. These are essential to reverse the ecological and climate crises we face. Importantly, nature connectedness can increase over time through frequent nature engagement.

Simple actions such as acknowledging the good things you see in nature each day, whether it be a robin's dawn chorus, or the vibrant colors of wildflowers, can do this. Check out these pathways to achieving a closer connection with nature.

3. Indigenous cultures and knowledge is being lost

Indigenous culture is intimately connected to the land. The erosion of ecosystems can therefore result in the erosion of culture—including knowledge and language. This knowledge is often hyper-localized and has evolved over thousands of years. It is vital to the health of many ecosystems and the livelihoods of communities across the globe.

Ecological restoration can help to sustain the rich diversity of human cultures on our planet by supporting relationships between humans and the environment that are mutually advantageous. Protecting the rights and livelihoods of indigenous peoples and supporting indigenous research leadership has an important role to play in this process. This includes dismantling the view that traditional ecological knowledge is simply a data source that can be extracted.

Ecological restoration should ideally be viewed as reciprocal: a mutually beneficial relationship. Reciprocity is the basis for relationships in many indigenous cultures, and will be fundamental to long-term, successful restoration.

4. Human health is dependent on ecosystem health

The restoration of ecosystems is intrinsically linked to the restoration of human health. The COVID-19 pandemic, which has so far caused over a million deaths worldwide, is a poignant reminder of how ecosystem degradation can contribute to the emergence and spread of novel pathogens. To combat these emerging global conditions and protect the lives of future generations, we need to protect and restore our habitats and biodiversity.

In addition, biodiversity loss could be making us sick. Restoring environmental microbiomes (the diverse networks of microbes in a given environment) through revegetation may have an important impact on our immune systems. My research explores the relationship between the environment, the microbiome and human health. Through landscape design and restoration, we may be able to help restore microbial relationships, and as a result, our health and wellbeing.

As Robin Wall Kimmerer, professor of environmental and forest biology, eloquently articulated in her book Braiding Sweetgrass: "As we work to heal the earth, the earth heals us."

Let's make the next decade the ecologically transformative movement that our planet so desperately needs.

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.

Watch the video: Grade 5: Ecosystem Restoration, Chapter 1, Lesson (May 2022).