Science Research & Restoration Strategies

“Our planet’s future may depend on the maturation of the young discipline of ecological restoration.”        (Leslie Roberts, 2009)      

Successful restoration of terrestrial or maritime systems requires an expanded view that includes ecological as well as social aspects, historical as well as political. By deciphering the timeline of human’s impacts upon the landscape science is able to identify the forces that shaped and determined our present day earth systems. Restoration science goes one step further and asks what is needed to rejuvenate any given ecological system under stress. Restoration science does not stop at detecting dysfunction but engages actively in finding solutions how to transition to more functional states. Making it clear, that destruction and degradation at all scales can be reversed and revitalized by cross-disciplinary approaches that guide holistic restoration strategies.

The goal of restoration is not necessarily to recreate a pre-human pristine and ideal ecosystem but rather to look ahead into the future with a long-term visionary outlook towards a system that is both resilient and realistic. Only by including all stakeholders, science and an engaged greater public will landscape restoration be able to reassemble our earth’s ecological support systems that all life forms depend upon. Sound ecosystem restoration strategies will therefore have to reflect ecosystem complexity and as well as economic realities.

Science, in its various sub-disciplines and with its practice-proven methodologies, provides the tools to examine a myriad of contexts for restoration. John D. Liu and the EEMP have been engaged in research and advocacy from the inner tropics of Southern America and Africa, through the Middle-East, through temperature regions of Asia and Europe all the way to the high latitudes of tundra- and bog biomes in the North. While fundamental principles of restoration repeat their validity – it is always a deeper ecological understanding into a given local biological infrastructure and a detailed knowledge about former and current land-use activities that allows drafting of science-based policy recommendations.

The EEMP collaborates with leading scientific institution across the globe such as Wageningen University (NTL), Rothamsted Research (UK), Artec-Research Center for Sustainability Studies (GER), Chinese Academy of Science (PRC) as well as with outstanding individuals from the forefront of ecological restoration and ecosystem economics: Jane Goodall, Amery Lovins, Anders Wijkman, James Aronson, Michael Succow, Pavan Sukhdev or Willem Ferwerda.

Wherever restoration progresses under well-designed strategies we are able to witness a constant increase in ecological functionality, an ongoing accumulation of natural capital as well as amplified resilience against predictable future impacts.

Action oriented and collaborative research, as conducted by the EEMP, has been involved in a myriad of different situation around the globe. Science-based advocacy reaches from intentional communities on a watershed levels to entire nation states spanning different climatic zones and gives proof for the high applicability of the organizations findings and expertise: Be it from quarry rehabilitation under saline bed-rock conditions in Kenya, to rejuvenation of fruit orchards for organic food production in China, to mangrove restoration for costal zone protection in Pacific Islands states, all the way to new land-use policies for a central African Republic. The EEMP has been conducting scientific research and advocacy on all continents.

Besides direct on the ground engagement, the organizations half-hour documentaries for the WHAT IF Change Series condenses the experience and knowledge of more than 15 years of active engagement in large-scale ecosystem restoration across the plant. John D. Liu’s world-touring 90-minute presentations represents climax-understanding of a young science and its role in assisting in the recovery of a million years old planet.

This page is full of information about global ecosystem restoration. You will find links to key scientific literature, as well as organizations active in the restoration world.

Included are essays from a variety of fields that span investigation into

  • our present day ecosystem conditions (I.),
  • global conventions on ecosystem health (II.),
  • leading documents on restoration (III.),
  • information about how to revitalize degraded systems (IV.),
  • journals on restoration ecology (V.) and
  • a number of specific newsletters you can subscribe to (VI).

All this information pivots around the topic of how functionality can be brought back to a large-scale degraded area.

We welcome feedback on what additional resources you would like to see here. Our hope is for this to become an open source portal for information on ecosystem restoration projects, studies and papers. Please contact Patrick Augenstein –

Our starting place is to learn more about the current situation – to better understand what needs to be done.

Section One will give you an overview of the most comprehensive studies ever made about the threats and status quo of our earth systems. It includes reports such as the Millennium Ecosystem Assessment Report, the Global Forest Resources Assessment, the Stern Report, an GIS-based estimate on global soil degradation by the Isric/Lada Institute, The Economics of Ecosystems and Biodiversity, plus the annually updated Red List on endangered species by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN).

After gaining a good understanding about immediate and long-term threats to the life support systems of our planet, we continue with all current major conventions that try to create consensus to halt this destruction.

Click here to review Section One.

In Section Two you will find all international agreements on water, land and air. The Ramsar Convention, as an example, deals with protection, maintains and rehabilitate of wetlands across the globe and is currently signed by 161 nations. The control of the trans-boundary movement of hazardous waste is regulated in the Basel Convention. The Cartagena Protocol deals with Biosafety issues. The Montreal Protocol is one of the rare positive exceptions that created legally binding policies that led to the restoration of the earth ozone layer within a few decades. The Rotterdam Convention tries to limit the impact on ecosystems from chemicals and pesticides as a result of international trade.  Do we miss a specific convention on global ecosystem restoration? Let us know.

Click here to view Section Two.

How to restore degraded systems? The way to restore, and the philosophy behind restoration, is presented in Section Three. John D. Liu, in Finding Sustainability in Ecosystem Restoration, provides a visionary outlook. A Primer on Ecological Restoration from the Society of Ecological Restoration give practical hands-on advice about how to design and implement projects at scale. A restoration bible on how to re-green agricultural lands is provided by the World Overview on Conservational Agricultural Techniques (WOCAT), Where the Land is Greener.

Click here to view Section Three.

Well structured information is provided by multiple databases with a focus on revitalizing our green infrastructure in Section Four. These include the Society for Ecological Restoration International, the Geodata Portal by the UNEP, the Global Restoration Network, the World Overview of Conservation Approaches and Technologies, Global Adaption Institute Index, UN Documentation Center on Water and Sanitation and the World Association on Soil and Water Conservation Knowledge Network. Information is provided for free on all these platforms. It could not come at a better time.

Click here to view Section Four.

Indispensable, but not quite in the true philosophy of open-source, are four scientific journals that publish quarterly to provide the latest findings for a young disciple. Cutting-edge research is provided by Ecological Restoration, Restoration Ecology, Ecological Engineering and the Ecological Management & Restoration Journal. This can be found in Section Five.

Click here to view Section Five.

For those of you who wish to get updated via newsletters regarding latest developments on the protection and restoration of our ecosystems we  recommend these four subscriptions in Section Six – the International Institute for Sustainable Development Newsletter, the International Institute for Environment and Development Newsletter, the Food and Agricultural Organization Infosylva and the IUCN Arborvitae Newsletter.

Click here to view Section Six.

Leave a Reply