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Primed for Change: Developing Ecological Restoration for the 21st Century

Authors


Address correspondence to N. Shackelford, email nancy.shackelford@gmail.com

Abstract

Restoration is a young and swiftly developing field. It has been almost a decade since the inception of one of the field's foundational documents—the Society for Ecological Restoration International Primer on Ecological Restoration (Primer). Through a series of organized discussions, we assessed the Primer for its currency and relevance in the modern field of ecological restoration. We focused our assessment on the section entitled “The Nine Attributes of a Restored Ecosystem” and grouped each of the attributes into one of four categories: species composition, ecosystem function, ecosystem stability, and landscape context. We found that in the decade since the document's inception, the concepts, methods, goals, and thinking of ecological restoration have shifted significantly. We discuss each of the four categories in this light with the aim of offering comments and suggestions on options for updating the Primer. We also include a fifth category that we believe is increasingly acknowledged in ecological restoration: the human element. The Primer is an important document guiding the practice of restoration. We hope that this critical assessment contributes to its ongoing development and relevance and more generally to the development of restoration ecology, particularly in our current era of rapid environmental change.

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