How to Prioritize Ecological Restoration


Prospect_NC_restoration_candidate.jpgA site targeted for ecological restoration is a piece of a larger puzzle. “Many scientists and managers recognize the importance of the surrounding landscape because this context often determines the success of restoration activities. However, the prioritization of restoration sites based on this context isn’t yet a common practice,” says Eastern Threat Center research ecologist Kurt Riitters. A new database could change that. Riitters is among research partners who ran U.S. land cover data through software that recognizes and categorizes spatial patterns. The researchers looked for relatively small sites with patterns indicating a potential need for revegetation that were also close to other sites with existing natural vegetation. They identified more than 1.1 million candidates, most highly concentrated in the East and the Great Plains. To help restoration ecologists narrow their focus within this set of candidates, researchers added information about site characteristics for each candidate in the database. They included the candidate’s area, connection to surrounding sites, roads, streams, soils, and land cover—17 attributes in all—that provide important landscape context. Natural resource managers facing limited funds and time can use the database to plan their efforts in order to maximize benefits to society and the environment. A paper published in Ecological Restoration describes the development of the database and its application to real-world planning at the state level. Read more in CompassLive...

Pictured: For a community in southeastern Noth Carolina, candidate ecological restoration areas are outlined in black. Impaired streams are shown in blue, and potentially restorable wetland areas are shown in yellow. Click to enlarge.


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