, Volume 9, Issue 8, pp 1073-1083

A conceptual model of ecosystem restoration triage based on experiences from three remote oceanic islands

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Abstract

A conceptual model, that illustrates restoration, ecological landscaping, rehabilitation and regreening, is developed. It considers biocentric, historical, aesthetic and engineering aspects. The term ecosystem restoration triage is used because the first step is to decide whether to ‘do nothing’ (because, on the one hand, the system is too degraded to warrant restoration, or, on the other, because biological integrity is relatively intact and therefore either none, or minimal, restoration is required) or to ‘do something’ (because restoration is worthwhile, urgent and feasible). This approach hinges on the definition that restoration in the strictist sense is a biocentric activity that returns the ‘original’ compositional, structural and functional diversity, along with its dynamics and natural evolutionary potential. ‘Original’ is a difficult qualifier as it depends on just how far back in time we go. Where human values are involved, this is not restoration in the pure sense of restoring ecological integrity, but is ecological landscaping, rehabilitation or regreening. Experience from three remote oceanic islands [Easter Island, Cousine Island (Seychelles), Marion Island (Sub-Antarctic)] and which represent near extremes of this model are used to illustrate it.