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Natural landscapes? Scientists call for a paradigm shift in restoration projects

Source: phys.org

Regardless of whether we are dealing with a floodplain landscape or an entire national park, the success of a restoration project depends on more than just the reintroduction of individual plant or animal species into an area. An international team of researchers led by Martin Luther University Halle-Wittenberg (MLU) and the German Centre for Integrative Biodiversity Research (iDiv) Halle-Jena-Leipzig reveals it is more a matter of helping the damaged ecosystem to regenerate and sustain itself. In the current issue of the journal Science the researchers describe how rewilding measures can be better planned and implemented—and the benefits this can have on humans.

Nature has been severely affected around the world by the construction of cities, roads and factories as well as intensive farming practices. Entire ecosystems have been destroyed, resulting in a continuous decline in biodiversity. “As a result, many ecosystems are no longer able to perform important tasks such as flood regulation,” says Professor Henrique Pereira of MLU and iDiv. For several decades projects have been conducted around the world that aim to recreate regions that are as near to nature as possible. A well-known approach is so-called rewilding. “Rewilding focuses on the ecosystem as a whole and attempts to restore its functionality through targeted measures, allowing the ecosystem to sustain itself with little or no human management,” explains lead author Andrea Perino, who is working on her doctorate in Pereira’s research group. At the same time, rewilding also serves to make the aesthetic and intangible value of nature accessible to people. MORE

Header image: Peene river and flooded lands near Anklamer Stadtbruch, Germany. Credit: Solvin Zankl/Rewilding Europe.

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