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The relationship between ecological restoration and the ecosystem services concept

Sasha Alexander, University of Western Australia
James Aronson, Restoration Ecology Group, Centre d'Ecologie Fonctionnelle et Evolutive (CNRS-UMR 5175); Center for Conservation and Sustainable Development, Missouri Botanical Garden
Oliver Whaley, Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew
David Lamb, School of Agriculture and Food Science, The University of Queensland


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Ecological restoration and the mainstreaming of the concept of ecosystem services will be critical if global society is to move toward sustainability. Conference of the Parties 21 (COP21) of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change and COP12 of the Convention on Biological Diversity should help foster support for vastly increased investment in the better management and restoration of natural capital. Large-scale restoration demonstrably improves ecological functioning to sustain both biodiversity and human well-being. However, much progress is needed to improve the effectiveness and cost efficiency of any restoration. The ecosystem services concept provides a framework for identifying the types of restorative interventions needed to target different forms and degrees of degradation, and achieve goals related to both ecosystem health and delivery of services to people. Moreover, it can strengthen the argument for, and planning of, large-scale restoration and conservation of natural capital. We use case studies from four continents to help demonstrate how the interconnection between ecological restoration and the ecosystem services concept is being utilized in land-use planning and enlightened ecosystem management. We offer ways in which this relationship can be better understood and communicated to support the scaling up of restoration activities to the landscape and regional scales across the full spectrum of land uses and ecosystem types.

Key words

climate change; ecosystem services; land degradation; land use; large-scale ecological restoration; restoring natural capital, rural communities, sustainable development

Copyright © 2016 by the author(s). Published here under license by The Resilience Alliance. This article is under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License. You may share and adapt the work provided the original author and source are credited, you indicate whether any changes were made, and you include a link to the license.

Ecology and Society. ISSN: 1708-3087