Ecological Restoration

The 136,000-acre Pilanesberg Game Reserve in South Africa, shown here in 2006, was used for farming and mining before undergoing the largest restoration project in the world, including the reintroduction of thousands of game animals.

Photo credit: Wikipedia/Joonas Lyytinen

Ecological restoration is a generic term for projects to remediate environments that are perceived as having been damaged, typically by human activity. Such projects fall on a spectrum ranging from attempts to re-create, as closely as possible, the original environment, to “clean up” projects where, for instance, an opencast mine that was formerly a forested area is replaced by a lake surrounded by a park. This article explains different concepts of restoration and discusses the controversy over whether natural environments, once destroyed, can ever be fully restored.

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