Ecological restoration and ecological engineering: Complementary or indivisible?
James Aronson, Andre Clewell, David Moreno-Mateos
Ecological engineering and ecological restoration are distinct disciplines, both of which are urgently needed to reverse global environmental damage. Relative to ecological restoration, ecological engineering provides outcomes that are more predictable but with lower diversity. It also aims to provide higher functionality with respect to one or a few ecosystem services, relative to ecological restoration which aims at full, long-term recovery of lost ecosystem services. Ecological engineering generally incurs higher maintenance costs and provides lower values of natural capital than ecological restoration. In particular, we contend that “large scale restoration projects” include little restoration and should be recognized as “large scale rehabilitation programs” more aligned with ecological engineering principles and the overriding aim of restoring natural capital. Engineers and ecologists must work together and learn from each other if our work is to generate significant societal benefits.
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