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Restoration Ecology to the Future: A Call for New Paradigm


  • Young D. Choi

    Corresponding author
    1. Department of Biological Sciences, Purdue University Calumet Hammond, IN 46323, U.S.A.
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The discipline of restoration ecology has grown remarkably in the past decades, providing new ideas and opportunities for conserving biological diversity, managing ecosystems, and testing ecological theories. On the other side, its past-oriented, static, and idealistic approach has been criticized for subjectivity in determining restoration goals, inapplicability to dynamic ecosystems, and inability for restoring certain irreversible losses. Moreover, unpredictable sustainability of the restored ecosystems, which were modeled after its historical fidelity, adds our skepticism under the changing environment. This paper calls for a new paradigm of ecological restoration to the future. A future-oriented restoration should (1) establish the ecosystems that are able to sustain in the future, not the past, environment; (2) have multiple alternative goals and trajectories for unpredictable endpoints; (3) focus on rehabilitation of ecosystem functions rather than recomposition of species or cosmetics of landscape surface; and (4) acknowledge its identity as a “value-laden” applied science within economically and socially acceptable framework. Applicability of ecological theories to restoration practice is also discussed in this paper.

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