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Recommendations for Integrating Restoration Ecology and Conservation Biology



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Recommendations for Integrating Restoration Ecology and Conservation Biology in Ponderosa Pine Forests of the Southwestern United States Reed F Noss 1 8 Paul Beier 2 W Wallace Covington 3 R Edward Grumbine 4 David B Lindenmayer 5 John W Prather 6 Fiona Schmiegelow 7 Thomas D Sisk 6 and Diane J Vosick3 Abstract Over the past century ponderosa pine dominated landscapes of the southwestern United States have been altered by human activities such as grazing timber harvest road building and fire exclusion Most forested areas within these landscapes now show increased susceptibility to stand replacing fires insect outbreaks and droughtrelated mortality Recent large wildfires in the region have spurred public interest in large scale fuel reduction and restoration programs which create perceived and real conflicts with the conservation of biodiversity Conservation concerns include the potential for larger road networks soil and understory disturbance exotic plant invasion and the removal of large trees in treated areas Pursuing prescribed burning thinning or other treatments on the broad scale that many scientists and managers envision requires the reconciliation of ecological Introduction Restoration ecology and conservation biology are distinct disciplines with somewhat different cultures histories norms and methods Young 2000 They are represented by two professional societies the Society for Ecological Restoration International SERI and the Society for Conservation Biology SCB Although many scientists and practitioners fit equally well within the conservation 1 Department of Biology University of Central Florida Orlando FL 32816 2368 U S A 2 School of Forestry Northern Arizona University Flagstaff AZ 86011 5018 U S A 3 Ecological Restoration Institute Northern Arizona University Flagstaff AZ 86011 15017 U S A 4 Prescott College 220 Grove Avenue Prescott AZ 86301 U S A 5 Centre for Resource and Environmental Studies The Australian National University Canberra ACT 0200 Australia 6 Center for Environmental Sciences and Education Northern Arizona University Flagstaff AZ 86011 5694 U S A 7 Department of Renewable Resources University of Alberta Edmonton Alberta Canada T6G 2H1 8 Address Correspondence to R F Noss email rnoss mail ucf edu 2006 Society for Ecological Restoration International 4 restoration with biodiversity conservation This study presents recommendations from a workshop for integrating the principles and practices of restoration ecology and conservation biology toward the objective of restoring the composition structure and function of dry ponderosa pine forests Planning on the scale of hundreds of thousands of hectares offers opportunities to achieve multiple objectives e g rare species protection and restoration of ecological structures and processes that cannot easily be addressed on a site by site basis However restoration must be coordinated with conservation planning to achieve mutual objectives and should include strict guidelines for protection of rare declining and sensitive habitats and species Key words biodiversity conservation ponderosa pine restoration biology or restoration ecology camps many professionals from the two disciplines do not interact regularly Membership surveys conducted by SCB in 2000 and 2004 found that in both years only 9 of SCB members were also members of SERI http conbio net SCB Information We summarize some typical attributes of conservation planning and ecological restoration in Table 1 A comparison of the two columns in Table 1 not only shows the areas of overlap between the two fields but also the substantial areas of divergence In this study we focus on the challenge of integrating ecological restoration with conservation planning within landscapes dominated by dry ponderosa pine Pinus ponderosa forests in the southwestern United States The roots of restoration ecology can be traced back to 1938 when Aldo Leopold John Curtis and others at the University of Wisconsin began developing restoration treatments for establishing reference sites within the University of Wisconsin Arboretum Restoration ecology received a boost in 1964 with the founding of the field of applied ecology and its journal Journal of Applied Restoration Ecology Vol 14 No 1 pp 4 10 MARCH 2006 Integrating Restoration Ecology and Conservation Biology Table 1 A comparison of typical attributes of conservation planning from the conservation biology perspective and ecological restoration Conservation Planning Ecological Restoration The primary value assumption is that biodiversity and ecological integrity are good Goal is to save all the pieces i e species genetic lineages The primary value assumption is that naturalness ecosystem health and ecological integrity are good The overall cohesion of the puzzle is paramount and should conserve all the pieces Emphasis on structure and function Planning focus is usually on restoration at the ecosystem level less at the individual species level Uses reference conditions knowledge of natural range of variability and the evolutionary context as a driver for action Focus on bringing the ecosystem back to historic or natural condition and restoring structure and function Often focuses more on the managed landscape matrix than on protected areas Considers management as often desirable and needed more interventionist than conservation planning Assumes that people are part of the system indigenous cultural practices are accepted as part of the evolutionary history Time Objective is to put the ecosystem on a trajectory of recovery that may take many human generations Emphasis on composition Planning focus is usually on protecting hotspots of biodiversity or endemism and areas and species at high risk Uses viability persistence at the species level as a driver for site selection conservation action and measures of success Focus on maintaining what is left at species and community level Historical focus on protected areas however now recognizes the need for management of the landscape matrix Historical approach is to minimize human intervention or interference Historically approach was usually to minimize human use of protected areas exclude people from system Time Viability analyses may consider long time periods however short term crisis management still drives many decisions Ecology by the British Ecological Society The first issue included themes such as land reclamation that are within the domain of restoration ecology Ormerod 2003


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