Rethinking Conservation Practice in Light of Climate Change

Peter W. Dunwiddie, Sonia A. Hall, et al.; September 2009; Ecological Restoration 27:3

The whole concept of using reference information to guide restoration, or to inform our ideas about what ‘successful restoration’ means, was put into question by last week’s Palmer article. The piece I found fascinating was with regard to restoration in the face of climate change, and a search for a meaningful reference about these topics led me to this fascinating article. The authors argue that, given climate change, one’s restoration goals should focus not only on past reference, but instead on future resilience of ecosystems or species. This will necessarily mean taking approaches that might help push species past natural density levels, push ecosystems into new geographies, or utilize novel ecosystems (with non-historically native species). While considerable caution should be taken, all of these options and more should be considered on the table, in the name of system resilience. Because of its inherent awareness of current and historical systems on a site, as well as the use of future climate conditions to guide action, this approach is both forward and backward looking. The authors cite several examples of where each approach has been or will be used, and outline many of the intended consequences as well as the risks associated with each. Case studies and considerable expertise make this article a must-read, though the obvious shortfall is still – and will likely be for a long time – a lack of existing scientific evidence.

A source from Palmer biblio: O. Hoegh-Guldberg, et al. 'Assisted Colonization and Rapid Climate Change'

Image: California Dept. of Fish and Game

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