A century of wetland restoration efforts

Photo by reallyboring via Flickr
A recent analysis of wetland restoration efforts sheds new light on the success of a 100-year history of such work to reclaim these highly important ecosystems. Restoration has been a major undertaking in recent decades as development has damaged and otherwise claimed over half of the wetlands in areas like North America, Europe, Australia, and China.

The study looked at monitoring done at 621 restored or created wetlands around the world, comparing them with nearly the same amount of undisturbed natural wetlands. It revealed that the recovery of physical and biotic properties–the parts of a wetland that we can usually see and orient restoration toward–happened at a different timescale than the overall functioning of the ecosystem, which more closely followed the process of secondary succession after natural disturbances.

Promisingly, the study demonstrated that full recovery of human-damaged ecosystems is possible in most cases within one to two human generations, given time, a focus on recovering processes rather than single elements, and solid ecological understanding.

(via NYTimes Green Blog)

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