Some Remarks on the Socio-Cultural Background of Restoration Ecology


Address correspondence to J. Pfadenhauer, email


Restoration ecology plays an important role in nature conservation policy in Europe today. It establishes the scientific basis for restoring ecosystems altered or destroyed by man to a more “natural” state. The goals of restoration ecology can generally be described in terms of increased biodiversity, enhanced water retention capacity, avoidance of soil erosion, etc. In practice, however, a discrepancy exists between the high ideals of restoration goals and reality, where one often encounters limiting factors. These limiting factors can include the conflict between different restoration goals, the unpredictability of restoration goals owing to long-term effects and stochastic events, the insufficient social acceptance of landscape changes during restoration processes, and the use of restoration processes themselves (e.g., undisturbed succession, certain management measures like impoverishment of fertilized areas) as restoration goals in place of a certain resource quality (such as species composition, population sizes, water quality). Two examples from southern Germany show that restoration goals in European cultural landscapes can only be implemented successfully when they are integrated into the respective land use systems.