Every ecosystem and its biodiversity are important for the sustainable development, economic growth & human wellbeing. Knowing its value also, the ecosystems are still undergoing degradation. Over exploitation of natural resources throughout centuries has widely disrupted the equilibrium within ecological systems, driving changes of ecosystems worldwide. Earth’s ecosystems are degrading as a result of damage, unsustainable development and a failure to invest and reinvest in their productivity, health and sustainability..
We can repair some of the damage which we humans have done to ecosystems and biodiversity. Ecological restoration seeks to do just that, and restoration ecology is the science that underpins it.
Working of Restoration Ecology:
Restoration ecology helps to recover the damaged ecosystem back into its pristine condition. It aims to repair the structure and function of the ecosystem. Restoration projects differ in their objectives and their methods of achieving those goals. Many restoration projects aim to establish ecosystems composed of a native species; other projects attempt to restore, improve, or create particular ecosystem functions, such as pollination or erosion control. Some examples of different kinds of restoration include the following:
- Habitat enhancement - the process of increasing the suitability of a site as habitat for some desired species.
- Revegetation - the establishment of vegetation on sites where it has been previously lost, often with erosion control as the primary goal. For example, vegetated buffers are strips of vegetation that protect water quality in riparian ecosystems from urban or agricultural runoff.
- Mitigation : legally mandated remediation for loss of protected species or ecosystems.
- Remediation : improving an existing ecosystem or creating a new one with the aim of replacing another that has deteriorated or been destroyed.
Procedure for application of Restoration Ecology
- Step 1 Assessing the site: The overall study of the site to be restored
- Step 2 Formulating project goals: With the help of reference ecosystem. The reference ecosystem are those pristine ecosystem which are undisturbed or not degraded & they have similar kind of ecological conditions which is going to be repaired. These acts as a recovery protocol for the damaged ecosystems.
- Step 3 Removing sources of disturbance: These disturbances can be any cause for soil erosion like mining activities, toxic materials etc.
- Step 4 Restoring processes/disturbance cycles: Such as natural floods or fire regimes.
- Step 5 Rehabilitating substrates: This can include any activity aimed at repairing altered soil texture or chemistry, or restoring hydrological regimes or water quality.
- Step 6 Restoring vegetation: Vegetation can be planted as seeds, or seedlings. Great care should be taken for the native species.
- Step 7 Monitoring and maintenance: Regular checking is needed in order to determine the whether goals are being met. Monitoring should be conducted till the damaged ecosystem is made self- sustaining and self-regulatory.