Determining appropriate goals for restoration of imperilled communities and species
Article first published online: 14 MAR 2011
© 2011 The Authors. Journal compilation © 2011 British Ecological Society
Journal of Applied Ecology
Volume 48, Issue 2, pages 275–279, April 2011
How to Cite
Thorpe, A. S. and Stanley, A. G. (2011), Determining appropriate goals for restoration of imperilled communities and species. Journal of Applied Ecology, 48: 275–279. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-2664.2011.01972.x
- Issue published online: 14 MAR 2011
- Article first published online: 14 MAR 2011
- Received 29 October 2010; accepted 24 January 2011 Handling Editor: Marc Cadotte
- global change;
- historic conditions;
- historic disturbances;
- restoration goals;
1. Conservation and restoration practitioners often struggle to define appropriate targets for restoration. Frequently, ‘pre-settlement conditions’ (the conditions that are believed to have existed prior to European settlement) are used. In this review, we draw on our experiences working with land-managers to restore native ecosystems in the Pacific Northwest (USA) to discuss some of the challenges in using pre-settlement conditions as a restoration target.
2. We have found that information on the structure and composition of pre-settlement communities does not exist in sufficient detail to set quantitative restoration targets.
3. The systems we work in have been so altered from the historic condition (as we best understand it), that mimicking the anthropogenic and ‘natural’ disturbances that shaped these communities is both difficult and unlikely to guarantee success.
4. Furthermore, the pre-settlement condition may not be an appropriate restoration goal given on-going global changes, including species invasions, habitat loss, and climate change.
5. Synthesis and applications. We suggest that rather than focusing on historic benchmarks, restoration goals should be based on ecological principles that will lead to resilient, functioning ecosystems. We provide real-world examples for how scientists and managers can work together to define and test appropriate and effective restoration methods and targets.