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Renewal ecology: Conservation for the Anthropocene

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Renewal ecology: Conservation for the Anthropocene

Abstract

The global scale and rapidity of environmental change is challenging ecologists to reimagine their theoretical principles and management practices. Increasingly, historical ecological conditions are inadequate targets for restoration ecology, geographically circumscribed nature reserves are incapable of protecting all biodiversity, and the precautionary principle applied to management interventions no longer ensures avoidance of ecological harm. In addition, human responses to global environmental changes, such as migration, building of protective infrastructures, and land use change, are having their own negative environmental impacts. We use examples from wildlands, urban, and degraded environments, as well as marine and freshwater ecosystems, to show that human adaptation responses to rapid ecological change can be explicitly designed to benefit biodiversity. This approach, which we call “renewal ecology,” is based on acceptance that environmental change will have transformative effects on coupled human and natural systems and recognizes the need to harmonize biodiversity with human infrastructure, for the benefit of both.
OPINION ARTICLE
Renewal ecology: conservation for the Anthropocene
DavidM.J.S.Bowman
1, Stephen T. Garnett2, Snow Barlow3, Sarah A. Bekessy4, Sean M. Bellairs2,
Melanie J. Bishop5, Ross A. Bradstock6,DarrylN.Jones
7, Sean L. Maxwell8, Jamie Pittock9,
Maria V. Toral-Granda2, James E. M. Watson8,10, Tom Wilson11 , Kerstin K. Zander11 ,
Lesley Hughes5,12
The global scale and rapidity of environmental change is challenging ecologists to reimagine their theoretical principles
and management practices. Increasingly, historical ecological conditions are inadequate targets for restoration ecology,
geographically circumscribed nature reserves are incapable of protecting all biodiversity, and the precautionary principle
applied to management interventions no longer ensures avoidance of ecological harm. In addition, human responses to global
environmental changes, such as migration, building of protective infrastructures, and land use change, are having their own
negative environmental impacts. We use examples from wildlands, urban, and degraded environments, as well as marine and
freshwater ecosystems, to show that human adaptation responses to rapid ecological change can be explicitly designed to
benet biodiversity. This approach, which we call “renewal ecology,” is based on acceptance that environmental change will
have transformative effects on coupled human and natural systems and recognizes the need to harmonize biodiversity with
human infrastructure, for the benet of both.
Key words: biodiversity, climate, environmental change, innovation, opportunity, social-ecological systems
Implications for Practice
By accepting environmental change as inevitable and irre-
vocable, renewal ecology provides those practicing con-
servation management greater social license to innovate.
Irretrievably degraded land and seascapes can provide
opportunities to renew biological function and diversity, in
places where attempts to recreate the former natural state
would fail.
Urban and agricultural landscapes largely written off as
sites for effective conservation can be reimagined as
species habitat with enhanced ecological functionality,
while delivering cobenets for human well-being.
Introduction
Rapid climate change, stressed ecosystems, and sharp declines
in biodiversity are all indicators of the accelerating pace and
global scale of human impacts on the Earth system (Johnson
et al. 2017). Such environmental upheavals, effectively cap-
tured in the “Anthropocene” concept (Steffen et al. 2007), chal-
lenge classical approaches to conserving biodiversity such as
setting aside protected areas: nowhere on Earth is now com-
pletely isolated from the impacts of human activities (Scheffers
et al. 2016). Compounding the myriad of threats to biodiver-
sity are the dynamic human adaptive responses to environmental
change, such as major engineering and infrastructure develop-
ments, shifts in demographic and agricultural patterns, strategies
to reduce the impacts of extreme events, and attempts to improve
the security of water, food, and energy (Maxwell et al. 2015).
Recognition of the rate, scale, and magnitude of the global
environmental crisis has triggered debate about whether exist-
ing conservation approaches and intellectual disciplines are
adequate (Martin et al. 2012; Hobbs 2013; Robbins & Moore
2013; Harmsen & Foster 2014; Head 2016) (Box 1). One
important source of intellectual tension concerns the weight
placed on historical frames of reference to dene management
Author contributions: All authors contributed to the writing of the paper; DMJSB,
STG, LH, KKZ led the writing with case studies drafted by MJB (coasts), RAB
(re-breaks), SAB and DNJ (urban ecology), JP (freshwater and energy), SLM and
EWRB (agriculture), SMB and DMJSB (mines).
1School of Biological Sciences, University of Tasmania, Private Bag 55, Hobart,
Tasmania 7001, Australia
2Research Institute for the Environment and Livelihoods, Charles Darwin University,
Casuarina, Northern Territory 0909, Australia
3Faculty of Veterinary and Agricultural Sciences, University of Melbourne, Parkville,
Victoria 3011, Australia
4Interdisciplinary Conservation Science Research Group, School of Global, Urban and
Social Studies, RMIT University, GPO Box 2476, Melbourne, Victoria 3001, Australia
5Department of Biological Sciences, Macquarie University, North Ryde, New South
Wales 2109, Australia
6Centre for Environmental Risk Management of Bushres, University of Wollongong,
Wollongong, New South Wales 2522, Australia
7Environmental Futures Research Institute, Grifth University, Nathan, Queensland
4111, Australia
8School of Earth and Environmental Sciences, The University of Queensland, St.
Lucia, Queensland 4072, Australia
9Fenner School of Environment and Society, The Australian National University, 48
Linnaeus Way, Acton, Australian Capital Territory 2600, Australia
10Wildlife Conservation Society, Global Conservation Program, Bronx, NY 10460,
U.S.A.
11Northern Institute, Charles Darwin University, Casuarina, Northern Territory 0909,
Australia
12Address correspondence to L. Hughes, email lesley.hughes@mq.edu.au
© 2017 Society for Ecological Restoration
doi: 10.1111/rec.12560
Restoration Ecology 1
Renewal ecology
strategies and objectives (Rohwer & Marris 2016). In a world
where the physical underpinnings of ecosystems are changing
rapidly, a focus on the past as an ideal standard can be unhelpful
in places where it is no longer possible to sustain ecosystems
within the range of known historical variability (Kareiva &
Fuller 2016). Conservation biology, restoration ecology, and
invasion biology have been criticized as “Edenic sciences,”
given their common objective of returning ecosystems to a past,
often idealized, state (Stott 1998; Robbins & Moore 2013).
Ecosystems in the Anthropocene may have no historical analog
and harbor a range of non-native species, some of which may
be threatened within their historic ranges.
Box 1
Definition of renewal ecology and its relationship
to related disciplines.
There is increasing recognition that classical approaches to
conservation and natural resources management are unable
to meet the challenges of the Anthropocene. Martin et al.
(2014) provide a valuable summary (their Table 1) of
how existing scientic elds, and proposed new ones, and
associated concepts can contribute to conservation goals
and human livelihoods in the face of global environmen-
tal change. Our concept of renewal ecology, dened as “a
solutions-focused discipline aimed at creating and man-
aging ecosystems designed to maximize both biodiversity
and human well-being in the face of rapid environmental
change” builds on these approaches, and below we briey
outline (in alphabetical order) how renewal ecology differs
or enhances some key related elds and concepts.
Agroecology: Renewal ecology incorporates the argument
of Perrings et al. (2006) that understanding agriculture as an
ecological system, where biodiversity plays a critical bene-
cial role for food production and provision of ecosystems,
is essential given increasing conversion of wildland to agri-
culture to feed increasing human populations.
Compassionate Conservation: An approach to management
of trophic interactions to reduce the need for lethal con-
trol to stabilize wildlife and pest species (Ramp & Bekoff
2015). Such ethical consideration of the treatment of the
non-human world is shared in renewal ecology.
Conservation Biology: Aimed at reducing the risk of extinc-
tion of non-human species and degradation of their habitats
and the services they provide, taking past abundance, com-
position, and/or structure as an aspirational standard. We
propose renewal ecology as more forward-looking than tra-
ditional conservation biology, focusing on adaptation oppor-
tunities that provide benets for biodiversity while people
directly or indirectly adapt to global change.
Conservation Science: Proposed by Kareiva and Marvier
(2012) to make conservation biology more responsive
and relevant to current threats through the “applica-
tion of both natural and social sciences to the dynamics
of coupled human–natural systems.” They argue that
human well-being and social justice must be central to all
conservation efforts with a focus on provision of ecosystems
services, an ethos central to renewal ecology.
Human Ecology/Coupled Human-Natural Systems/
Social-Ecological Systems (Herein Termed “Human Ecol-
ogy”): The interdisciplinary and transdisciplinary study
of the relationship between humans and their natural and
built environments. In clearly dened and data-rich sys-
tems, methodologies developed in human ecology can be
employed to evaluate likely biodiversity and human benets
associated with alternative renewal ecology interventions.
Such holistic understanding of human–nature coupling is
fundamental to the practice of renewal ecology.
Intervention Ecology: Hobbs et al. (2011) outlined the
case for steering restoration ecology and land management
towards a more “thoughtful experimental approach embed-
ded in adaptive management” and have suggested the term
“intervention ecology” to capture this approach. Renewal
ecology builds on this argument by focusing on the need to
design ecosystems consciously and manage them actively,
using targeted interventions in the face of unprecedented
environmental change.
Novel Ecosystems: The concept that new assemblages of
species (i.e. those that have no historical precedent) will
result from differential responses to global change (Hobbs
et al. 2006). These assemblages may be biodiverse, func-
tional, resilient, and self-sustaining. Renewal ecology is
aimed at managing the trajectory of such novel assemblages
to maximize biodiversity and services.
Precautionary Principle and Biodiversity: The principle
of “do no harm” and placing the “burden of proof” on
proponents of environmental change lie at the heart of the
precautionary principle. But an overly cautious approach to
undertaking active interventions to save species can, in itself,
contribute to extinction risk (Myers 1993). Renewal ecology
argues for bet-hedging, rather than risk aversion inherent in
“intervention ecology” (see above).
Reconciliation Ecology: Rosenzweig (2003) presciently rec-
ognized that effort should be made to modify diverse anthro-
pogenic landscapes to create habitat for species, thereby
increasing biodiversity. Renewal ecology embraces this idea
but, because of the pervasive effects of global environmental
change, applies it to all natural systems.
Restoration Ecology: This approach has generally been
aimed at assisting the recovery of ecosystems that have been
degraded or destroyed to return to a previous, indigenous,
state. Renewal ecology recognizes that in many cases, the
rapidity of environmental change means that such an objec-
tive is unlikely to be achieved and instead promotes the
creation and/or enhancement of landscapes that support bio-
diversity and provide ecosystem services for human com-
munities in the context of change.
Urban Ecology: The study of the relationships and
interactions between all organisms— human and
non-human—within this most anthropogenic of land-
scapes. This discipline can be regarded as a fundamental
component of renewal ecology.
2Restoration Ecology
Renewal ecology
The emergence of such novel ecosystems (Hobbs et al.
2006) confronts the “natural system” archetype as the basis of
conservation biology (Hagerman & Sattereld 2014). Kareiva
and Fuller (2016), for example, argue that current conservation
approaches are inadequately equipped for the challenges of the
Anthropocene due to entrenched risk aversion— codied in
the “precautionary principle.” There is certainly concern about
assisting the movement of species in the face of climate change
(Ricciardi & Simberloff 2009) and that a focus on novel ecosys-
tems provides an excuse for accepting as inevitable the loss of
natural systems (Murcia et al. 2014). Many, but not all, of those
resisting ecological interventions acknowledge that conserva-
tion science needs to be conducted in the face of rapid climate
change. Arguably, urban ecologists have most fully accepted the
novel ecosystem concept (Hobbs et al. 2006) and the blurring
of boundaries between natural and human-dominated ecosys-
tems, recognizing biodiversity values in settings that have been
typically considered severely degraded or otherwise profoundly
altered by human activities. Given the enormity of change that
all ecosystems are facing, we suggest that a new approach is
required for designing and managing biodiverse ecosystems
and providing human well-being in the Anthropocene. Such an
approach must also minimize the collateral damage of human
adaptation and development in an anticipatory, proactive, and
collaborative way.
Concept Definition
We propose the concept of renewal ecology as an organiz-
ing principle for conservation management in the Anthro-
pocene. This concept formally recognizes that rapid environ-
mental change is unavoidable, necessitating critical planning,
and action, but also that human modications of landscapes for
provision of food, ber, and ecosystem services do not nec-
essarily have to come at the expense of biodiversity. We con-
tend that renewal ecology provides a philosophical license for
ecologists to sustain biodiversity in the Anthropocene through
innovation, and represents a channel for optimistic conserva-
tion action in a time of inevitable environmental change. We
dene renewal ecology as the science essential for creating and
managing ecosystems to maximize both biodiversity and human
well-being in the face of rapid environmental change.Weinten-
tionally advocate a broad denition of renewal ecology because,
like the concept of “biodiversity,” it provides exibility in inter-
pretation (Higgs 2003), and is more likely to contribute to “cre-
ating a shared vision and vocabulary” that will bring scientists,
practitioners, and politicians “closer to creating landscapes that
will sustain human well-being and forecast a more promising
future for all species on our shared planet” (Chazdon & Laesta-
dius 2016).
Concept Examples
Below we illustrate how the renewal ecology concept provides a
unifying framework for innovative conservation practice across
environments ranging from aquatic, wildland, and agricultural
to urban ecosystems. We briey describe some examples of
how human modications to land-, freshwater-, and seascapes
aimed at reducing the negative impacts of climate change can,
if approached in a forward-looking and innovative way, pro-
vide substantial cobenets for biodiversity. The salient feature
of these examples is that existing techniques (drawn from a
range of disciplines such as restoration ecology, environmental
engineering, agricultural science, forestry, sheries, conserva-
tion biology, and wildlife management) can be combined and
applied across a range of environments, land tenures, and spa-
tial scales to improve biodiversity outcomes. Such an approach
actively seeks opportunities to modify engineering, urban, and
landscape design as well as approaches to agricultural and
land and water management to create more coherence between
human societies and economies, land- and seascapes, and biodi-
versity. Even small interventions can have far reaching impacts
on society and biodiversity which in turn can energize innova-
tion and larger-scale transformative adaptation to global envi-
ronmental changes. The drivers for these changes may be corpo-
rate innovation seeking environmental sustainability and social
legitimacy (Kareiva & Fuller 2016), but can also occur across
sectors in society as a result of government regulation and
policy.
Living Shorelines to Protect Coasts
Sea level rise and the associated increased risks of storm surges
and coastal ooding are leading to substantial increases in
“hard-engineering” solutions (i.e. seawalls, revetments, break-
waters, groynes, and barrages) to protect coastal infrastructure
from inundation and erosion (Bulleri & Chapman 2010). These
approaches can have substantial negative impacts on coastal
ecosystems, including loss of habitat, disruption of land-sea and
long-shore connectivity of organisms and resources, and facili-
tation of movement by marine pest species (Bulleri & Chapman
2010).
A renewal ecology approach to coastal adaptation might
instead include the construction of ecosystems such as coral
and shellsh reefs, mangroves, and/or saltmarsh to dissipate
wave action and stabilize shorelines (Arkema et al. 2013). The
use of “living shorelines” for coastal protection has the added
benet that these ecosystems can enhance other services such
as sheries productivity and sequestration of carbon (Barbier
et al. 2011). Such land-sea connectivity and access to biodi-
verse beaches also provide meaningful experiences to humans,
especially for urban shorelines. Where defense of coasts using
hard-engineering structures remains necessary, their delete-
rious impacts can be substantially reduced by incorporating
important microhabitats such as tidal pools and crevices, and
constructing them of materials that provide a substrate to
support a broad spectrum of marine and estuarine organisms. In
some instances, the positioning of hard-engineering structures
in sedimentary environments may provide important “stepping
stones” for hard-substrate dependent species to overcome
dispersal barriers and migrate poleward in response to climate
change.
Restoration Ecology 3
Renewal ecology
Innovative Plantings to Reduce Fire Risk
In environments dominated by temperate forests and shrub-
lands prone to crown-res, increases in extreme heat and
changed rainfall patterns are increasing the frequency and
intensity of wildres (McKenzie & Littell 2017). Exposure of
high value property, such as urban housing, to regular wild-
res is acute in parts of the world such as southern Califor-
nia, Canada, southern Australia, and southern Europe (Moritz
et al. 2014). The challenge of coping with the increasing risk
to people and property is compounded by ongoing urban
expansion into areas of highly ammable vegetation (Bowman
et al. 2017).
Strategies to reduce re risk can provide opportunities and
choices for biodiversity within a renewal ecology framework.
For example, treatment of fuel may be more effectively achieved
through permanent modication of natural vegetation close to
urban settlements, rather than using prescribed re, which is
both costly (Penman et al. 2013) and hazardous to the health of
residents through exposure to smoke (Broome et al. 2016). Cre-
ation of linear parklands substituting low- for high-ammability
vegetation (e.g. rainforest or Callitris spp. instead of Eucalyp-
tus spp. in Australia) that separate wildland and urban areas may
provide alternative habitats for species and amenity values for
urban residents while at the same time reducing direct exposure
of properties to re risk. In particular, the opportunities to create
a ne-scale mosaic of varied habitats may arise through delib-
erate plantings of vegetation less prone to propagation of crown
res and embers. This may enhance ne-scale diversity relative
to simplication of native vegetation via mechanical clearing
or other forms of repetitive fuel treatment, such as prescribed
burning.
Greening to Cool Cities and Connect People to Nature
Globally, the number of people living in urban environments
already exceeds those outside cities. By 2050, 66% of the
world’s projected population of about 9.7 billion is expected to
be urban (United Nations 2015). With rising temperatures, exac-
erbated by the urban heat island effect, the human population is
expected to spend more time indoors in air-conditioned environ-
ments, increasing energy consumption, and reducing connection
with nature (Shanahan et al. 2014).
Application of renewal ecology concepts to urban environ-
ments starts with biodiversity-sensitive design, moving beyond
existing approaches that focus on preserving remnants, to incor-
porating biodiversity into the urban fabric (Garrard & Bekessy
2014). Greening urban environments can generate physical and
mental health benets; reduce energy consumption by buffering
microclimates and reduce the urban heat island effect; store
carbon; alleviate the impacts of ooding by reducing peaks in
storm water runoff; provide shelter from extreme weather; and
contribute to biodiversity conservation, particularly threatened
plant and animal species. The design elements that would
characterize a renewal ecology approach to cities could include
vegetated roofs and walls and purpose-designed and built
structures that enable safe movements of animals across the
landscape, reducing road-kill and the effects of habitat fragmen-
tation (Laurance et al. 2014). Creating opportunities for urban
residents to engage with nature where they live, work, play, and
travel can potentially be achieved through sensitive urban design
that integrates both native and non-native plants and animals
into courtyards, school yards, suburban gardens, and transport
corridors.
Water to Sustain People and Species
Freshwater and coastal species are already among the most
threatened as a consequence of their habitats being a focus of
human settlements and livelihoods, and because global con-
sumption of water is increasing with growing populations and
greater wealth. Freshwater ecosystems are particularly vulner-
able to human impacts from activities in water catchments,
fragmentation of rivers by infrastructure, and from water con-
sumption that alters the quality, quantity, and timing of water
ows (Pittock et al. 2015). All these effects are exacerbated
by climate change. Many of the most serious impacts of cli-
mate change on people and biodiversity are felt via impacts
on water, including oods, droughts, storms, and changes in
rainfall distribution (Bates et al. 2008). In addition to the
direct impacts on biodiversity, many human responses to cli-
mate change will detrimentally affect aquatic ecosystems (Pit-
tock 2015). These include mitigation measures that consume
more water, such as many types of biofuel production, and
adaptation measures, including increased storage of water in
reservoirs.
A renewal ecology approach to water management would
aim to meet human needs while sustaining aquatic biodiversity.
There are a number of existing examples of interventions con-
sistent with this philosophy that are currently implemented in an
ad hoc manner. These include: environmental water releases that
mimic pre-development river ows so as to conserve selected
biodiversity; reserving aquatic refugia that also offer recre-
ational opportunities; adding sh ladders to reservoirs to assist
migration; systematically restoring riparian vegetation to cool
rivers, reduce erosion and provide habitat and opportunities
for recreation; and the removal of redundant dams. Integrated
implementation of these established practices can enhance the
catchment-scale functioning of aquatic systems and link urban,
agricultural, and natural areas.
Biodiversity Opportunities from Changing Agricultural
Practices
Farmers are modifying agricultural landscapes to remain eco-
nomically viable in a changing climate (Nelson et al. 2014).
Relatively simple modications include adopting land use prac-
tices that reduce water loss (e.g. conservation tillage); adopt-
ing geospatial precision farming technologies; and switching to
more heat-tolerant livestock breeds. Where changing conditions
make existing agricultural systems untenable, major modica-
tions are leading to some agricultural systems being replaced,
displaced, or abandoned entirely (Rickards & Howden 2012).
4Restoration Ecology
Renewal ecology
Adapting agricultural landscapes to climate change could
potentially exacerbate their already substantial impacts on bio-
diversity (Maxwell et al. 2016). Adopting a renewal ecology
approach to adaptation, however, could mitigate and poten-
tially reverse some of these impacts. Heat stress in livestock
can be mediated by establishing tree plantations alongside graz-
ing areas, and biodiversity can benet from such plantings if
they are made species-rich and permanent (Karki & Good-
man 2010). Shifts to grazing in regions where declining rain-
fall is making cropping unviable may offer opportunities for
creation of critical habitat for threatened species, enhanced
pollination and shelter services, and potentially pest, disease,
and weed management services. Finally, abandoned farmland
offers opportunities to reconnect remnant vegetation or to recre-
ate highly threatened ecosystem types, such as native grass-
land or grassy woodland (Ceausu et al. 2015; Middendorp
et al. 2016).
Cohabitation of Species and Renewable Energy Sources
Almost all forms of power generation have the potential to
harm biodiversity. For instance, poorly placed wind gen-
erators can harm fauna and unconventional (i.e. coal seam
and shale) gas as a lower carbon “transition fuel” could
reduce biodiversity by increasing access to little developed
regions, increasing habitat fragmentation, and polluting fresh-
water ecosystems (Cook et al. 2013). Carbon capture and
geological storage, nuclear power, rst generation biofuel
crops (CBD 2010; Dalla Marta et al. 2015), and solar ther-
mal power stations (Pittock et al. 2013) all affect freshwater
sources as does planting forests to mitigate emissions by
increasing water consumption rates (Pittock et al. 2013).
Hydropower dams also have severe impacts on freshwater
ecosystems.
A renewal ecology approach adapts the design of the new
systems to minimize losses and maximize opportunities. For
example, the large areas of land and sea occupied by solar
and wind generators offer opportunities for cohabitation with
biodiversity, especially where the land has been degraded. In
the sea, offshore wind and wave farms serve as de facto marine
protected areas because trawl shing, a major source of marine
habitat degradation, is excluded (Ashley et al. 2014). The
foundations of offshore energy harnessing infrastructure may
be codesigned to serve as articial reefs, or anchor points for
aquaculture that might otherwise pollute habitats closer inshore
(Buck et al. 2004).
Creating Positive Legacies From Abandoned Mines
Classically, the objective of post-mining rehabilitation has
been to replace destroyed ecosystems, although this is rarely
achieved (Bell 2001). By leveraging the substantial nan-
cial resources and equipment available for mine site restora-
tion programs, a renewal ecology approach would focus on
the deliberate creation of novel ecosystems and landscapes
designed to provide habitat and sanctuaries for both native and
non-native threatened species (Harris et al. 2013). Examples
of post-mining land that have become biodiversity hotspots
demonstrate that this approach is feasible. For instance, wet-
lands created from rehabilitated sand-mined areas have pro-
vided bird habitat in southwestern Western Australia (Brooks
& Nicholls 1996) and the largest known breeding site for
ghost bats in the Northern Territory, Australia (Woinarski
et al. 2014).
Conclusions
Growing human populations and associated environmental
impacts on the Earth system are driving ecological degrada-
tion and the ongoing extinction crisis. This presents profound
challenges to the principles and practice of applied ecology,
with growing acceptance that the future of biodiversity and the
provision of ecosystem services will depend on more radical
interventions than have been previously countenanced, includ-
ing the intentional creation of novel ecosystems. Engineering
and technological interventions have the potential either to
exacerbate or mitigate ecosystem damage. We argue that
ecologists must promote opportunities to integrate ecosystem
processes and biodiversity into landscape-scale interventions,
a concept we call “renewal ecology.” We provide examples
of this approach in the freshwater, marine, and terrestrial
environments.
In a period of rapid change all strategies carry risk of failure.
We therefore see the potential of renewal ecology as being
additional to existing conservation approaches rather than as
a call to replace them. In this context, the concept espoused
by Aplet and Gallo (2012) of a “portfolio approach” to nature
conservation is pertinent. Such an approach across landscapes
is based on different principles and practices ranging from
the classic nature reserve to more innovative, experimental,
and historical approaches inherent in renewal ecology. This
hedges against the failure of any particular approach to bio-
diversity protection and human well-being. Such plurality
of approaches reduces rather than exacerbates philosophi-
cal tensions among conservation practitioners. Importantly,
renewal ecology can motivate other sectors in the economy to
incorporate biodiversity into their current and future responses
to climate change, thereby increasing the economic base and
area for conservation (Rosenzweig 2003). In sum, renewal
ecology is a project reconciling humans and nature, of cocre-
ating a vibrant, diverse world for humans, and other species.
Though there will undoubtedly be missteps and mistakes
along the way, this approach promises the possibility of a
world that, while changed, is greener, wilder, and happier than
today.
Acknowledgments
This article is a product of a National Climate Change Adap-
tation Facility (NCCARF) workshop organized by L.H. and
S.T.G.
Restoration Ecology 5
Renewal ecology
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Restoration Ecology 7
... Although conservation measures in farmed landscapes can be successful, they are costly to implement, often reduce crop yields, and displace cultivation to other regions (Green et al., 2005). Renewal ecology may offer a framework to address biodiversity and socioeconomic objectives in human-modified landscapes at the intersection of conservation biology, agro-ecology, and restoration ecology (Bowman et al., 2017). For example, objectives for wildlife-friendly farming and land-sparing can be optimized to simultaneously restore grassland function, maximize crop yields, and reduce pressure on biodiversity within farmed landscapes (Green et al., 2005). ...
... We suggest that the biodiversity conservation of grassland birds will be most effective within a renewal ecology framework that integrates conservation science, restoration ecology, and agro-ecology to maximize human well-being and biodiversity outcomes in highly modified agricultural production landscapes (Bowman et al., 2017;Kareiva & Marvier, 2012). Because the role of humans has become pervasive in highly modified landscapes (Kareiva & Marvier, 2012), conservation success depends on understanding human dimensions that drive decision-making processes before tangible biodiversity outcomes are possible (Knight et al., 2010). ...
... Recent declines in the legislated area limits of CRP and payment rates have resulted in a declining trend in the area of land enrolled in the program (Hellerstein, 2017). Ultimately, the area of land enrolled in CRP within agricultural production landscapes of the Great Plains has important implications for the sustainability of traditional livelihoods, efforts to feed expanding human populations (Bowman et al., 2017), and the decline of the North American grassland avifauna (Rosenberg et al., 2019). Addressing socioeconomic and biodiversity problems on such a grand scale will require conservation strategies to balance tradeoffs for potentially conflicting objectives in a way that provides optimal outcomes for social welfare and biodiversity (Schwartz et al., 2018). ...
Article
The decline of biodiversity from anthropogenic landscape modification is among the most pressing conservation problems worldwide. In North America, long‐term population declines have elevated the recovery of the grassland avifauna to among the highest conservation priorities. Because the vast majority of grasslands of the Great Plains are privately owned, the recovery of these ecosystems and bird populations within them depend on landscape‐scale conservation strategies that integrate social, economic, and biodiversity objectives. The Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) is a voluntary program for private agricultural producers administered by the United States Department of Agriculture that provides financial incentives to take cropland out of production and restore perennial grassland. We investigated spatial patterns of grassland availability and restoration to inform landscape‐scale conservation for a comprehensive community of grassland birds in the Great Plains. The research objectives were to 1) determine how apparent habitat loss has affected spatial patterns of grassland bird biodiversity, 2) evaluate the effectiveness of CRP for offsetting the biodiversity declines of grassland birds and 3) develop spatially explicit predictions to estimate the biodiversity benefit of adding CRP to landscapes impacted by habitat loss. We used the Integrated Monitoring in Bird Conservation Regions program to evaluate hypotheses for the effects of habitat loss and restoration on both the occupancy and species richness of grassland specialists within a continuum modelling framework. We found the odds of community occupancy declined by 37% for every 1 Standard Deviation (SD) decrease in grassland availability [loge(km2)] and increased by 20% for every 1 SD increase in CRP land cover [loge(km2)]. There was 17% turnover in species composition between intact grasslands and CRP landscapes, suggesting grasslands restored by CRP retained considerable, but incomplete representation of biodiversity in agricultural landscapes. Spatially explicit predictions indicated absolute conservation outcomes were greatest at high latitudes in regions with high biodiversity, whereas the relative outcomes were greater at low latitudes in highly modified landscapes. By evaluating community‐wide responses to landscape modification and CRP restoration at bioregional scales, our study fills key information gaps for developing collaborative strategies, and balancing conservation of avian biodiversity and social well‐being in agricultural production landscapes of the Great Plains.
... Crushed waste bricks as component of planting substrates can be used for landfill and quarry restoration as well as for road verges and urban greening, often resulting in 'novel ecosystems' (Hobbs et al. 2006;Kowarik 2011), while they might benefit biodiversity and ecosystem services (Bowman et al. 2017). Urban greening could accommodate considerable amounts of brick-augmented substrate to support semi-natural grasslands that otherwise have declined, for example in Central Europe (Poschlod et al. 2005;Wesche et al. 2012). ...
... In ecological restoration, seed mixtures are wanted that simulta neously improve biodiversity and ecosystem services (Bowman et al. 2017). Here, a trait-based approach allows greater generality for species compositions and more predictive power (Shipley et al. 2016). ...
Article
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Ecological restoration aims at supporting biodiversity and ecosystem services, and urban greening is a great opportunity to achieve this goal. This is facilitated by species-rich seed mixtures based on local provenances, which are designed for certain nutrient and moisture regimes based on functional plant traits. Such grassland mixtures might be cultivated on crushed waste bricks, which would be a new component of water-holding urban substrates. Thus, we studied the effects of brick quantity and quality, acid pre-treatment of bricks, soil type and moisture on biomass of designed seed mixtures. Three greenhouse experiments were conducted, with substrates consisting of different brick ratios (5% vs. 30%), brick types (clean production waste vs. demolition material), and brick treatments (acid vs. control) tested on three trait-based mixtures and a non-regional commercial standard mixture. The trait-based mixtures included information on specific leaf area, seed mass and grass-to-legume ratio. There were no negative effects of demolition bricks, soil texture and moisture on grassland biomass. Acid-treated clean porous bricks improved biomass production of the standard and intermediate mixtures, while the effect was minimal with demolition bricks. Designed seed mixtures had a biomass similar to the standard mixture under dry conditions but did not benefit from high moisture like the standard mixture. In conclusion, waste bricks are a useful additive for urban restoration substrates to save raw material, and specifically designed regional mixtures can replace commercial grassland types on these substrates.
... In practice for protected wetlands, this can take many forms including managing species populations or chemical characteristics of the water (Geist & Hawkins 2016), but especially in temperate regions of the world, it focuses often on removing historic drainage to rewet areas (Biebighauser 2007;Verhoeven 2014, 7). The difficulties of removing most or all anthropogenic influence is recognised (Bowman et al. 2017) and arguments have been proposed that this can be acceptable for conservation (Morse et al. 2014). However, the pervasiveness of the 'natural imperative' as Angermeier (2000) coined it, seems to have galvanised in broad ecological restoration approaches like 'rewilding' (e.g. ...
Article
Full-text available
This paper presents an archaeological perspective of modified lacustrine environments in Scotland currently designated as protected areas for biodiversity. After introducing how ‘natural’ is embedded in biodiversity protection and restoration, an approach to archaeologically assess the anthropogenic creation of protected biodiversity is laid out using an existing dataset on historic drainage of Scottish lochs. This approach is one way to quantify the degree to which valued and protected wetland habitats and biodiversity are products of human activity, specifically drainage. Where this is the case, wetland archaeology of historic drainage can improve management and habitat restoration through articulating processes of shifting ecological baselines and defining natural states in environments. This is explored with a case study and argued to support a novel ecosystems framework for protected areas and restoration. With this view, a model is proposed for how wetland archaeology can improve wetland restoration while reducing possible conflicts with the preservation of wetland archaeology.
... While protected areas remain the cornerstone of conservation, they cannot be the sole means of recovering threatened species (Mora and Sale, 2011;Rodrigues et al., 2004). Farmland is being reimagined, from a leading threat to a key pillar for conservation, supporting a complex web of social-ecological systems capable of recovering threatened species through active management while concurrently producing food (Bowman et al., 2017;Eriksson, 2021;Fischer et al., 2015;Kremen and Merenlender, 2018;Langpap and Kerkvliet, 2012;Scherr, 2016). ...
Article
Effective incentive programs for farmers to conserve biodiversity on their properties are vital for sustainability. Most such programs have focussed on natural areas, like revegetating waterways, but novel agricultural habitats amplify the commitment required of farmers and the need for collaboration in the conservation process. The rice fields of Australia's Murray-Darling Basin are a key habitat for a globally endangered waterbird, the Australasian bittern, but early and sufficient ponding periods that facilitate successful breeding are inconsistent with max-imising yield per megalitre of water used. We aimed to understand farmers' willingness to undertake 'bittern-friendly' rice growing practices and their preferences for hypothetical incentive programs. Public recognition of the habitat values of their fields was a key motivation for participation, and, across the industry, we estimated that rice growers were willing to forgo an annual profit margin totalling $AU1.42 million per annum to further bittern conservation. We tested for social desirability bias, finding the inferred valuation-their nearest rice growing neighbour-was 51 % lower, but still a substantial in-kind contribution. More than half of growers did not need compensation to control foxes and cats, or to avoid herbicide use on rice bay banks, while about a third would undertake each of the other conservation actions. For financial incentives, a choice experiment showed the payment rate was important but farmers strongly preferred less demanding management requirements. The 11-day variation in ponding commencement and period was highly valued by growers, and can be crucial to bit-terns. Growers also preferred higher levels of contract flexibility, while the intensity of compliance monitoring had little impact on their choices. The preferred incentive type was to use public environmental water with no money exchanged, followed by a consumer-funded program with bittern-friendly rice products, and a standard government contract, whereas a pledge system and a tender were relatively unpopular. Bittern-friendly rice growing incentive programs should be successful if they foster custodianship, harness in-kind contributions, improve rice farming's public image, and work with growers where opportunity costs for additional water are low.
... Czerwiński et al., 2021). Despite the complicated history, our study site provides a long-term background that is desired in modern conservation studies (Bowman et al., 2017) and might be used to define the restoration target (Roleček et al., 2020). However, due to global warming, water shortage and degradation of the fen, the target will not be easy to reach (Vellend et al., 2017). ...
Article
Full-text available
In the time of the global climate crisis, it is vital to protect and restore peatlands to maintain their functioning as carbon sinks. Otherwise, their transformations may trigger a shift to a carbon source state and further contribute to global warming. In this study, we focused on eutrophication, which resulted in its transition from rich fen to poor fen conditions. The prior aim was to decipher how i) climate, ii) human, and iii) autogenic processes influenced the pathway of peatland changes in the last ca. 250 years. We applied a high-resolution palaeoecological analysis, based mainly on testate amoebae (TA) and plant macroremains. Our results imply that before ca. 1950 CE, dry shifts on the Kazanie fen were generally climate-induced. Later, autogenic processes, human pressure and climate warming synergistically affected the fen, contributing to its transition to poor fen within ca. 30 years. Its establishment not only caused changes in vegetation but also altered TA taxonomic content and resulted in a lower diversity of TA. According to our research M. patella is an incredibly sensitive testate amoeba that after ca. 200 years of presence, disappeared within 2 years due to changes in water and nutrient conditions. As a whole, our study provides a long-term background that is desired in modern conservation studies and might be used to define future restoration targets. It also confirms the already described negative consequences connected with the Anthropocene and not sustainable exploitation of nature.
... During the current Anthropocene era, human activities are rapidly changing biodiversity patterns across the globe, with accelerated rates of introduced species, including parasites (Bowman et al., 2017, Toral-Granda et al., 2017, Keys et al., 2019. Novel parasites can wreak havoc on naïve populations, causing high mortality rates, rapid population declines, and species extinctions (Van Riper III et al., 1986, McClure et al., 2020, Koop et al., 2016. ...
Article
Full-text available
The avian beak is a key morphological trait used for foraging. If parasites alter beak shape, we may expect changes in host foraging behaviour. Larvae of the avian vampire fly (Philornis downsi) cause naris enlargement in Darwin’s finch nestlings when 1st and 2nd instar larvae consume keratin, blood, and tissue from inside the beak of the developing host. This naris malformation persists into adulthood, where nares that are >15% of total beak length are considered enlarged. We measured effects of parasite‐induced naris enlargement on foraging behaviour, foraging niche overlap, and body condition in Darwin’s finches on Floreana Island. Foraging behaviour was ranked by the stress per foraging technique exerted on the beak and ranged from least stress for ‘gleaning’ to most stress for ‘chip off bark’. Naris enlargement occurred in 34% of adult birds. The most common foraging technique differed among species: Camarhynchus pauper often chipped off bark to extract subsurface prey, C. parvulus often gleaned surface prey from foliage, hybrids gleaned prey from bark and foliage, and Geospiza fuliginosa mostly foraged on the ground. In C. pauper, birds with naris enlargement did more gleaning and less subsurface prey excavation. Foraging niche across species was most similar in birds with naris enlargement. Finally, body condition was lower in insectivorous tree finches with malformed beaks. A novel aspect of this study is the idea that parasite‐induced alterations to phenotype affect ecological processes and interspecific interactions at large temporal and spatial scales. The parasitism occurs early in life but the ecological effects of this parasitism, if causative, are happening later.
... Conservation biology in particular has been hugely influential on contemporary wildlife conservation and management, probably because it has managed to develop a fairly coherent framework that integrates biology, social sciences, and even art and education (Bennet et al., 2016). The key point for this group of frameworks is that an assumed idea of "naturalness, " i.e., a representation of nature that interests of power (influential stakeholders) can agree upon, justifies management interventions on a landscape level (e.g., Bowman et al., 2017). ...
Chapter
Full-text available
) Understanding Human–Canid Conflict and Coexistence: Socioeconomic Correlates Underlying Local Attitude and Support Toward the Endangered Dhole (Cuon alpinus) in Bhutan.
... Conservation biology in particular has been hugely influential on contemporary wildlife conservation and management, probably because it has managed to develop a fairly coherent framework that integrates biology, social sciences, and even art and education (Bennet et al., 2016). The key point for this group of frameworks is that an assumed idea of "naturalness, " i.e., a representation of nature that interests of power (influential stakeholders) can agree upon, justifies management interventions on a landscape level (e.g., Bowman et al., 2017). ...
Article
Full-text available
Wildlife management in contemporary society means balancing multiple demands in shared landscapes. Perhaps the greatest question facing today's policy makers and wildlife professionals is how to develop frameworks for coexistence between wildlife and the plethora of other land use interests. As a profession, the roots of wildlife management and conservation can be traced back to the 1600's, but most of the relevant frameworks that have shaped the management of wildlife over time have emerged after the mid-1800's and particularly since the 1960's. Here we examine the historical development of the main traits and concepts of a number of management and conservation frameworks that have all contributed to the multifaceted field of contemporary wildlife management and conservation in Europe and North America. We outline a chronology of concepts and ideologies with their underlying key ideas, values, and operational indicators, and make an assessment of the potential of each paradigm as a coexistence framework for dealing with wildlife. We tie this to a discussion of ethics and argue that the lack of unity in approaches is deeply embedded in the differences between rule-based (deontological) vs. results-based (consequentialist) or context dependent (particularist) ethics. We suggest that some of the conflicts between ideologies, value sets and frameworks can be resolved as an issue of scale and possibly zonation in shared landscapes. We also argue that approaches built on anthropocentrism, value pluralism and environmental pragmatism are most likely to succeed in complex socio-political landscapes. However, we caution against moral relativism and the belief that all types of cultural values are equally valid as a basis for contemporary wildlife management.
Article
Process interactions on catenas have supported grazing adapted ecosystems and sustained biodiversity values in the source zone of the Yellow River in western China for millennia. In recent decades, anthropogenic disturbance and climate change have threatened the integrity of these systems, impacting upon environmental values and their capacity to sustain local livelihoods. Collaborations between local experts and a team of international researchers during a workshop and field excursion to this area in July 2019 developed a cross-disciplinary, process-based model of alpine meadow catenas. This paper relates the contemporary health of these grassland-wetland systems to their ‘best achievable state’ under prevailing boundary conditions, differentiating stages of degradation and recovery in relation to climate and land use changes. Recovery is underway for alpine meadow catenas at Maqin. Reduced land use pressures (stocking rates) and longer growing seasons have enhanced grassland-wetland conditions. However, recovery prospects are limited for local areas of extremely degraded grasslands (heitutan), as breached abiotic thresholds have resulted in soil and nutrient loss and reduced capacity for water retention. While lagomorphs and rodents act as ecosystem engineers when alpine meadows are in a healthy state, irruptions locally increase the proportion of bare ground and inhibit recovery potential. Management options that support recovery of alpine meadows are presented for differing stages of degradation.
Article
To make coherent and just choices about introduced species management in postcolonial contexts such as Aotearoa, a nuanced understanding of human relationships to introduced species is needed. Inspired by relational values thinking, we interviewed 13 knowledge holders to explore diverse meanings and experiences with introduced trout and their management. Trout have impacted ecosystems and communities in profoundly different ways, ranging from ecological enhancement and cultural empowerment for some communities to devastation and loss for others. Some people consider trout potentially compatible with a ‘healthy’ ecosystem, while others consider them incompatible. Despite the existence of deep and legitimate reasons for differences in perspectives on trout, we found convergence among interviewees on three principles that could provide a foundation for future trout management: shared decision-making within a Treaty framework, management of the negative impacts of trout, and coordination across government agencies to set and achieve holistic fish management objectives.
Article
Full-text available
Biodiversity is essential to human well-being, but people have been reducing biodiversity throughout human history. Loss of species and degradation of ecosystems are likely to further accelerate in the coming years. Our understanding of this crisis is now clear, and world leaders have pledged to avert it. Nonetheless, global goals to reduce the rate of biodiversity loss have mostly not been achieved. However, many examples of conservation success show that losses can be halted and even reversed. Building on these lessons to turn the tide of biodiversity loss will require bold and innovative action to transform historical relationships between human populations and nature.
Article
Full-text available
Most ecological processes now show responses to anthropogenic climate change. In terrestrial, freshwater, and marine ecosystems, species are changing genetically, physiologically, morphologically, and phenologically and are shifting their distributions, which affects food webs and results in new interactions. Disruptions scale from the gene to the ecosystem and have documented consequences for people, including unpredictable fisheries and crop yields, loss of genetic diversity in wild crop varieties, and increasing impacts of pests and diseases. In addition to the more easily observed changes, such as shifts in flowering phenology, we argue that many hidden dynamics, such as genetic changes, are also taking place. Understanding shifts in ecological processes can guide human adaptation strategies. In addition to reducing greenhouse gases, climate action and policy must therefore focus equally on strategies that safeguard biodiversity and ecosystems.
Book
The Action Plan for Australian Mammals 2012 is the first review to assess the conservation status of all Australian mammals. It complements The Action Plan for Australian Birds 2010 (Garnett et al. 2011, CSIRO Publishing), and although the number of Australian mammal taxa is marginally fewer than for birds, the proportion of endemic, extinct and threatened mammal taxa is far greater. These authoritative reviews represent an important foundation for understanding the current status, fate and future of the nature of Australia. This book considers all species and subspecies of Australian mammals, including those of external territories and territorial seas. For all the mammal taxa (about 300 species and subspecies) considered Extinct, Threatened, Near Threatened or Data Deficient, the size and trend of their population is presented along with information on geographic range and trend, and relevant biological and ecological data. The book also presents the current conservation status of each taxon under Australian legislation, what additional information is needed for managers, and the required management actions. Recovery plans, where they exist, are evaluated. The voluntary participation of more than 200 mammal experts has ensured that the conservation status and information are as accurate as possible, and allowed considerable unpublished data to be included. All accounts include maps based on the latest data from Australian state and territory agencies, from published scientific literature and other sources. The Action Plan concludes that 29 Australian mammal species have become extinct and 63 species are threatened and require urgent conservation action. However, it also shows that, where guided by sound knowledge, management capability and resourcing, and longer-term commitment, there have been some notable conservation success stories, and the conservation status of some species has greatly improved over the past few decades. The Action Plan for Australian Mammals 2012 makes a major contribution to the conservation of a wonderful legacy that is a significant part of Australia’s heritage. For such a legacy to endure, our society must be more aware of and empathetic with our distinctively Australian environment, and particularly its marvellous mammal fauna; relevant information must be readily accessible; environmental policy and law must be based on sound evidence; those with responsibility for environmental management must be aware of what priority actions they should take; the urgency for action (and consequences of inaction) must be clear; and the opportunity for hope and success must be recognised. It is in this spirit that this account is offered. Winner of a 2015 Whitley Awards Certificate of Commendation for Zoological Resource.
Chapter
The driving factor of the climate problem is the continuous increase of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from productive activities. Such emissions drive radiative forcing of climate and affect the radiation balance of the Earth (IPCC 2007) with global warming as a consequent effect. At a global level, GHG emissions originate from activities related to energy supply (electricity and heat generation) (41 per cent), industry (20 per cent), transport (22 per cent), residential and commercial sector (6 per cent) and 10 per cent other (forestry, agriculture, fishing, waste, etc.) (IEA 2012). The most problematic GHG, particularly due to released quantities, is carbon dioxide originated by fossil fuels combustion (60 per cent), which is mainly due to thermal and electric energy production (46 per cent) and transport (road, aviation, maritime, etc.; 23 per cent). Thus, fossil fuel is both the most widespread energy source and one of the biggest problems of modern society, due to its environmental impact and due to growing concern about the security of supply. All of these factors, together with a vision of development accompanied by energy independence, have led many countries (ie Europe, the United States, Brazil, India, China) to consider the production of energy from renewable sources, such as biomass, as an alternative to fossil fuels. The term biomass encompasses a range of materials of heterogeneous nature with an organic matrix, able to be renewed and converted into energy. Biomass is the raw material for the production of biofuels for the transport sector, as well as of electricity and heat. In general, biomass can be considered a reservoir of solar energy captured and forfeited through the photosynthetic and metabolic processes of living organisms. Although also true for fossil fuels (coal, oil), which embed solar energy, they are relics of the geological past and cannot be renewed. In this context, energy crops should play an important role in the short-to-medium term in the replacement of fossil fuels, with global expansion of cultivated areas.
Article
Biodiversity is essential to human well-being, but people have been reducing biodiversity throughout human history. Loss of species and degradation of ecosystems are likely to further accelerate in the coming years. Our understanding of this crisis is now clear, and world leaders have pledged to avert it. Nonetheless, global goals to reduce the rate of biodiversity loss have mostly not been achieved. However, many examples of conservation success show that losses can be halted and even reversed. Building on these lessons to turn the tide of biodiversity loss will require bold and innovative action to transform historical relationships between human populations and nature.
Article
Extreme wildfires have substantial economic, social and environmental impacts, but there is uncertainty whether such events are inevitable features of the Earth’s fire ecology or a legacy of poor management and planning. We identify 478 extreme wildfire events defined as the daily clusters of fire radiative power from MODIS, within a global 10 × 10 km lattice, between 2002 and 2013, which exceeded the 99.997th percentile of over 23 million cases of the ΣFRP 100 km −2 in the MODIS record. These events are globally distributed across all flammable biomes, and are strongly associated with extreme fire weather conditions. Extreme wildfire events reported as being economically or socially disastrous ( n = 144) were concentrated in suburban areas in flammable-forested biomes of the western United States and southeastern Australia, noting potential biases in reporting and the absence of globally comprehensive data of fire disasters. Climate change projections suggest an increase in days conducive to extreme wildfire events by 20 to 50% in these disaster-prone landscapes, with sharper increases in the subtropical Southern Hemisphere and European Mediterranean Basin.