Riparian Restoration: Current Status and the Reach to the Future



Nine articles in the special issue of Restoration Ecology addressing the subject of site selection for riparian restoration activities were critically examined for this review. The approaches described make significant and original contributions to the field of riparian restoration. All are interdisciplinary to some extent, often combining the fields of hydrology, geomorphology, and biology in the design of restorations. A common component among the articles is that they take a broad view, if not a watershed view, of restoration site selection. The approaches can be generally described as top-down strategic approaches to siting restorations, as opposed to the more methods- and site-driven bottom-up, or tactical, approach. All the articles recognize the importance of developing endpoints related to the ecological function of riparian ecosystems. They succeed in their quest for these indicators of ecological function to varying degrees. The most common indicator used in these papers is riparian vegetation. Several additional elements of scientific investigation, if successfully pursued, could provide vital information and advance our understanding of riparian restoration: developing interdisciplinary approaches more fully; defining endpoints and reference conditions; implementing multiple scale approaches; viewing restorations as experimental ecosystem manipulations; developing a philosophy regarding exotic species; incorporating geographic information systems more often; and integrating science, society, and politics. The foundation provided by the contributions in this issue should provide a strong basis for the rapid advancement of future research in the area of riparian restoration.