Ecological Restoration: The Big Picture

An ecosystem’s inherent adaptive characteristics make it possible for humans to help that ecosystem change its trajectory away from degradation, damage, and destruction and toward recovery, repair, and self-sustaining regeneration and renewal. When humans assist in the recovery of an ecosystem, it is called ecological restoration.

“This is an extraordinary time full of vital, transformative movements that could not be foreseen. It’s also a nightmarish time. Full engagement requires the ability to perceive both.” – Rebecca Solnit

Ecological restoration is happening across the globe and is expanding each day. On March 1, 2019, the United Nations General Assembly declared 2021 – 2030 the UN Decade on Ecosystem Restoration. Over 80 governments have made major commitments to restore large areas of land. For example, Mexico has committed 5 million hectares to be restored by 2030. But there is a big gap between commitments and what is being done. It is not easy. Restoration involves both ecological systems and human systems. There is a huge gap between science and policy, with science far ahead. Meanwhile, there is a huge shortfall of qualified people to do this work. There are thousands of projects, but they’re not talking to each other, not sharing talent, science, or aspirations.

Global society can work together to secure a gain in the extent and functionality of native and cultural ecosystems by investing in a family of restorative activities. This will help reverse the extinction crisis, land degradation and desertification, and anthropogenic climate change, three of the overarching problems we face today as a global society.