Restoring Ecosystems Around the Mediterranean Basin: Beyond the Frontiers of Ecological Science


C. Khater, email


Based on concrete examples gathered from the Mediterranean region, this article shows why restoration ecology around the Mediterranean Basin must go beyond ecological science to embrace a contrasting local vision which integrates social and political realities. By taking into account the growing gap between the northern and southern/eastern shores of the Mediterranean, we propose the adoption of a double agenda for restoration around the Mediterranean to overcome the fact that restoration objectives are often jeopardized by political decisions initially aimed to promote conservation and lack of available technical means (even when appropriate scientific and political means are secured), and to enhance local actions with lasting impacts on the ecosystems. Our discussion illustrates how current ecological problems have become extremely complex and how the success of restoration projects depends on effective social interactions. Here, the simple juxtaposition of disciplines is no longer sufficient. We suggest going beyond existing ecological and socioeconomic frontiers to fill three main gaps. To fill the “design gap” it is important from the outset to promote a full debate for correct definition of the project's objectives and success indicators. Second, to fill the “implementation gap” ecological restoration science should be linked to information technology and cognition science to develop tools adapted for ecological debate. Third, to fill the “evaluation gap” aesthetic, social, cultural, and economic indicators should be defined during the debate process.