Defining restoration
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Defining restoration. DEFINING RESTORATION. Rehabilitation aims to revive important ecological services, or to restore a natural dynamic to ecological communities. Rehabilitation is used to regain some but not all of the original biodiversity of an area (WRI, 2003).

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Defining restoration

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Defining restoration

Defining restoration


  • Rehabilitation aims to revive important ecological services, or to restore a natural dynamic to ecological communities.

  • Rehabilitation is used to regain some but not all of the original biodiversity of an area (WRI, 2003).

  • It might mean to regain agricultural value or to vegetate with species merely to have a natural system in place, (not necessarily an indigenous system).

  • Reclamation suggests bringing something back to its original condition. It includes any process promoting soil conservation and productive use of derelict land (Peterson and Etter, 1970). The best methods use vegetation cover that is self-renewing, attractive and long-term.

Defining restoration cont

Defining restoration cont.


  • Restoration aims at facilitating natural processes in disturbed areas that will eventually lead to self-sustaining ecosystems similar to what was present before disturbance.

  • Most complete restoration is rarely realistic because determining the pre-disturbance state of most ecosystems is difficult, and because ecosystems continually change (WRI, 2003).

  • Goal: return a habitat to a more desirable condition involving a particular species composition, community structure, and/or set of ecosystem functions.

  • Revegetation means to establish a plant cover of any type (Mentis and Ellery, 1994).

Relationship ecosystem function and structure

Relationship: ecosystem function and structure

Restoration ecology

Restoration ecology


  • Restoration ecology aims to re-establish or rehabilitate damaged or lost plant or animal populations or species assemblages indigenous to the area of interest (Jordan et al, 1987).

  • Relies on fundamental knowledge of the target species, but it also provides opportunities for testingbasic ecological theories.

  • Benefits include:

  • Maintenance of diversity of plants and animals

  • Improving wildlife habitats

  • Creating more aesthetically pleasing surroundings

  • Restoring natural communities

  • Protecting locally rare species

The planning process

The planning process


  • Setting realistic objectives is most NB step (Pastorok et al, 1997).

  • In a mountain catchment, the most NB function may be to supply clean water. Alien trees must be removed and indigenous cover must be there to prevent erosion (Holmes and Richardson, 1999).

  • Less transformed sites - reintroducing missing plant species

The planning process1

The planning process

  • More transformed sites - reintroduce soil biota before some species can establish (Holmes and Richardson, 1999).

  • Realistic objectives consider extent of damage (caused by IAS and the control or clearing of them), ecological potential, land-use goals and socio-economic constraints (available funds, time and trained staff).

  • Landscape interactions must be considered.

More to consider

More to consider


  • There is an important relationship between scale of disturbance and species abundance, distribution and persistence (Pavlovic, 1994)

  • Restoration of disturbance processes must include those to which the indigenous plants are adapted (e.g. natural flooding, herbivory, trampling).

  • Restoration may require reintroduction or management of the natural disturbance regime, elimination of a damaging anthropogenic disturbance regime, or introduction of a new disturbance regime (Pavlovic, 1994)




  • Planned disturbances are often accompanied by revegetation plans.

  • Topsoil is frequently collected and stored, to be replaced at the surface during revegetation. This practice is important for restoring the indigenous seed bank and soil microbial community.

  • The longer the time that topsoil is stockpiled, the more likely it is that viable seeds of indigenous species will decline. Many harmful alien species have persistent seed banks.

Aims of restoration

Aims of restoration

Aims of restoration1

Aims of restoration

The role of ias

The role of IAS

ROLE OF IAS IN RESTORATION (D’Antonio and Meyerson, 2002)

  • IAS may be part of the reason or need for restoration

  • IAS may be the first to re-colonize after disturbances associated with vegetation removal (unplanned or “natural” disturbance)

  • IAS may be the first to colonize after a planned disturbance, even if they were not present in the pre-disturbance community, and may interfere with restoration efforts

  • IAS may leave behind a legacy after removal that makes long-term restoration difficult (e.g. seed bank, chemical or physical alteration of the habitat)

  • Alien spp. may be used in restoration to restore particular functions if indigenous spp. aren’t suitable or available

Long term effects of ias

Long-term effects of IAS


  • Myrica faya has colonized young volcanic soils in Hawaii, where fixes nitrogen at a rate four times as high as all other sources of fixation combined. When it is killed, it leaves a legacy of high soil nitrogen. Introduced grasses appear to benefit from this die-off, complicating restoration efforts (Adler et al, 1998).

  • Invasive alien species often have very large persistent seed banks. They often maintain a much larger seed bank in their new habitat. Species with buried seed banks or extensive and persistent rhizomatous networks require repeated follow-up treatments (D’Antonio and Meyerson, 2002).

Long term effects of ias cont

Long-term effects of IAS cont.


  • In South African riverbanks, erosion has been accelerated by many introduced species (Acacia and Pinus spp.).

  • Restoration of sites degraded by alien species and soil erosion pose a particular challenge.

  • The topography may no longer resemble the pre-invasion conditions, and removal of the aliens may cause further erosion.

  • Highly degraded sites may no longer be able to support the desired species assemblages. Under these conditions it may be necessary to stabilise the soil using synthetic or biodegradable materials or establish indigenous vegetation before alien removal (D’Antonio and Meyerson, 2002).

The role of ias in restoration

The role of IAS in restoration


  • In some degraded sites it may be necessary to introduce an alien species to assist with the restoration process.

  • Where soil erosion or the potential for it is severe, many practitioners use fast-growing but sterile alien grasses to quickly establish cover. These grasses do not seed and presumably give way to indigenous species (D’Antonio and Meyerson, 2002).

  • Introduced species used in restoration must be monitored over time, and only used if no other options.

  • Introduced species do sometimes have a role to play in restoring functional aspects of ecosystems, but this must be related to the overall goal of restoration and the context within which restoration is carried out (Hobbs and Mooney, 1993).

Links to other chapters

Links to other chapters


Chapter 1Definitions

Chapter 2History, globalisation and GMOs

Chapter 3The human dimension

Chapter 4 Pathways of introduction

Chapter 5 Characteristics of invasive alien species

Chapter 6 The ecology of biological invasions

Chapter 7 Impacts of invasive alien species

Chapter 8 Invasive species management

Chapter 9 Predicting invasive spp. occurrence and spread

Chapter 10 Ecological restoration

Chapter 11 International perspective

Chapter 12 South African perspective

I hope that you found chapter 10 fun to do and that you will enjoy the next chapter in this course.

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