Restoration ecology is a subdiscipline of ecological engineering that has been growing out of the need and desire to add ecological value to ecosystems that have been degraded by human impacts. Projects range in size from less than one hectare for an individual prairie or wetland to the entire Everglades of South Florida. It is a very general field in that any kind of ecosystem can be restored but different actions are required for each ecosystem type. An extensive literature, which is a useful guide to future restorations, is developing out of the experience of practitioners. Much work is generated by legal requirements such as the Surface Mining Control and Reclamation Act of 1977 and the "No Net Loss" policy for wetlands, both from the U.S. Another antecedent to modern restoration ecology was the early efforts to improve industrial landscapes, especially in Europe (Chadwick and Goodman, 1975; Gemmell, 1977; Johnson and Bradshaw, 1979; Knabe, 1965). Although the field can be viewed as being a recent development, as early as 1976 an annotated bibliography of restoration ecology included nearly 600 citations (Czapowskyj, 1976). Storm (2002) considers restoration in the U.S. to be the basis for a growth economy because it is attracting investment from businesses, communities, and government.
A relatively large literature involves definitions of restoration and related terms (Bradshaw, 1997a; Higgs, 1997; Jackson et al., 1995; Lewis, 1990; National Research Council [NRC], 1994; Pratt, 1994). In general, restoration is the term used when a degraded ecosystem is returned to a condition similar to the one that existed before it was altered. However, many other related terms are used as is indicated by the titles to books on the subject: Recovery (Cairns, 1980; Cairns et al., 1977), Rehabilitation (Cairns, 1995b; Wali, 1992), Repair (Gilbert and Anderson, 1998; Whisenant, 1999), Reconstruction (Buckley, 1989) and Reclamation (Harris et al., 1996). To some extent, the differences in terms relate to differences in end points expected from the respective processes (Zedler, 1999). These end points may be very different as indicated in Figure 5.1. Sometimes ecosystems are created on a site which did not exist previously, as in wetland mitigation, and in other cases entirely new systems are constructed such as the "designer ecosystems" mentioned by MacMahon (1998) or the "invented ecosystems" mentioned by Turner (1994).
Some authors such as William Jordan III focus on conceptual approaches (Jordan, 1994, 1995; Jordan and Packard, 1989; Jordan et al., 1987), while others such as Anthony Bradshaw focus on more concrete principles (Bradshaw, 1983, 1987a, 1997a). There is a continual search for deep meaning by some workers in restoration ecology, which has resulted in an unusually broad field. For example, Brown (1994) uses the "prime directive" metaphor from the science fiction series Star Trek to suggest ways of dealing with restoration actions, and Baldwin et al. (1994) provide a book-length review of opinions from workers in art, literature, philosophy, and
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