Matthews recommends that more time be spent studying sites that have been restored for offset purposes to know what methods have been successful in the past and what can be achieved through restoration in order to limit the uncertainty of future sites. "One approach to that is active adaptive management," he said. "Restorations are performed almost like experiments. Let's tinker with it a little as we restore it, monitor the site over time, treat restorations as replicated experiments, and allow that to feed back to restoration practitioners so that they can incorporate that knowledge into future restoration sites.
"The deeper you look into complex ecosystems, the more nonequivalence you find," Matthews said. "You could look at two forests and say they're the same. But as you look closer, you might find that species composition is different. Nutrient cycling processes, for example, may be very different in those two forests. And so as you look in finer and finer detail, you find layers and layers of nonequivalence. Where we place the value becomes critically important. The scale at which we consider two sites to be equivalent or nonequivalent and how we place value on certain uniqueness in sites becomes critical in what we accept as a truly successful restoration," he said.
|Contact: Debra Levey Larson|
University of Illinois College of Agricultural, Consumer and Environmental Sciences