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The Semiglades: The Collision of Restoration, Social Values, and the Ecosystem Concept


Christa L. Zweig,


Defining success targets in restoration and how social values affect them are two commonly discussed issues in restoration today. We believe that how success is commonly defined—with vague terms such as “healthy ecosystem” or cited as a return to a previous, historic state—needs to be reevaluated. With the increasing number of novel ecosystems, there is an increasing conflict between the ecosystem concept, social values, and restoration. This arises from the fact that ecosystems are defined by the values of the scientists describing them, necessarily constraining the ecosystem to a generally static concept. It is not directly the concept, but how it is perceived through our filter of social values that represses the creativity and innovation needed in restoration today. Within restoration, we feel that the ecosystem concept does a disservice by ignoring the increasing number of novel systems, and that hinders real progress in a time when hesitation can be costly. To best illustrate this, we offer the example of restoration of the Florida Everglades and how it has become a novel system in pattern and process. We suggest renaming the Everglades “The Semiglades” in hopes of opening a dialog to expose social/ecosystem biases and include novel landscapes in management and planning.