Rebuilding the Natural World: A Shift in Ecological Restoration

Richard Conniff, writing for Yale Environment 360:

Restoring degraded ecosystems — or creating new ones — has become a huge global business. China, for instance, is planting 90 million acres of forest in a swath across its northern provinces. And in North America, just in the past two decades, restoration projects costing $70 billion have attempted to restore or re-create 7.4 million acres of marsh, peatland, floodplain, mangrove, and other wetlands.

This patchwork movement to rebuild the natural world ought to be good news. Such projects are, moreover, likely to become far more common as the world rapidly urbanizes and as cities, new and old, turn to green infrastructure to address problems like climate change, flood control, and pollution of nearby waterways. But hardly anyone does a proper job of measuring the results, and when they do, it generally turns out that ecological restorations seldom function as intended.
Morento-Mateos et al. 2012. DOI: 10.1371/journal.pbio.1001247

Morento-Mateos et al. 2012. DOI: 10.1371/journal.pbio.1001247

We need to work on bigger wetland restoration projects (>250 acres). Bigger is better.