Friday, August 7, 2009 - 9:10 AM

SYMP 24-4: Restoration strategies in a changing world

Richard J. Hobbs, University of Western Australia


In this talk I examine the future of ecological restoration as the field comes to grips with the need to focus less on restoring historic ecosystems and more on the need to restore systems which are likely to persist in the face of multiple interacting global changes. Recent attention has increasingly focused on the likelihood that climate and other environmental changes will push many ecosystems beyond their historical bounds. Novel ecosystems will have species assemblages and abiotic conditions never before experienced. Trying to put  back “what was there before” may be neither possible nor desirable, and a radical rethink of restoration goals and practices may be needed. Providing sensible guidance on what type of management intervention is required in each particular circumstance will be a major challenge for ecology.  Where does resilience fit in to this picture?  Using a system’s inherent resilience to aid restoration is a recognised technique and, on the other hand, restoring a resilient system is often put forward as a restoration goal. But what exactly is resilience and how do we get it? Is resilience becoming just another word that everybody uses but nobody can agree on what it means exactly or how you measure it?  


I explore the use of resilience as a concept in a number of on-ground restoration projects in Australia and elsewhere and discuss the likely utility of the concept in the context of restoration in a rapidly changing world.