, Volume 19, Issue 6, pp 891-902

Restoration ecology of riverine wetlands: I. A scientific base

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Ecological restoration is a recent discipline that should be conducted scientifically and rigorously to move from a trial-and-error process to a predictive science to increase its success and the self-sustainability of restored ecosystems. The recent research developments in ecosystem dynamics allow scientists to provide a strong theoretical base for restoration ecology. Most large rivers have been degraded and managed by various agencies, but riverine wetlands are now recognized as providing numerous valuable functions. Numerous opportunities are available to ecologically restore wetlands disappearing through terrestrialization. After a brief description and discussion of several restoration projects carried out in riverine wetlands, we propose precise recommendations for future restoration projects, which should include the following essential steps: (1) increase restoration legitimacy with a team of interdisciplinary scientists working on the project—it can thus be conducted on a strong theoretical base derived from recent ecological concepts; (2) define precise and correct restoration mission, goals, and objectives, and appropriate performance indicators of restoration success or failure; and (3) monitor ecosystem changes both before and after the restoration, and compare these changes with changes observed in reference ecosystems.