The Dirt recently provided a thorough review of presentations made at this year’s Society for Ecological Restoration (SER) conference. The conference focused on “novel ecosystems”—new combinations of species that result from the influence of people—and the issues restoration ecologists must consider in the face of unrelenting urbanization. Recaps include:
- Marilyn Jordan, Senior Conservation Scientist from The Nature Conservancy, on how modification by humans tends to result in the replacement of native biodiversity with non-native generalists, threatening genetic richness developed over thousands or millions of years of evolution. Jordan argues for steps to isolate or contain the phenomenon.
- Margaret Palmer, Director of the Chesapeake Biological Laboratory, on the ecological performance of degraded sites and the politics of “restoration”: how can restoring a site to an arbitrary point in it’s history address what’s occurring there now? Would it be better to leave certain places as is? “How do we restore nature if the world is changing and we can’t go back in time?”
- Michael Erwin, Research Professor and Wildlife Biologist at the University of Virginia, on the ongoing Poplar Island restoration project, creating restored and man-made islands in the Chesapeake Bay in an effort to expand the area’s network of waterbird nesting grounds in response to critical habitat degradation from pollution, erosion and rising water levels.
- John Dixon Hunt, landscape historian at the University of Pennsylvania School of Design, on the capacity and attendant responsibilities of landscape architecture to interpret and represent the history of sites. Examples included Gas Works Park in Seattle, Parc De Bercy in Paris and Manchester Exchange Square in the UK.