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Rocketing restoration: enabling the upscaling of ecological restoration in the Anthropocene

Perring, Michael P., Erickson, Todd E., Brancalion, Pedro H. S.
Restoration ecology 2018 v.26 no.6 pp. 1017-1023
Anthropocene epoch, biodiversity, ecological restoration, ethics, governance, human population, industry, land degradation, livelihood, politics, potential energy, social environment, stakeholders, sustainable development
In the 25 years during which the Society for Ecological Restoration (SER) has overseen the publication of Restoration Ecology, the field has witnessed conceptual and practical advances. These have become necessary due to the scale of environmental change wrought by the increasing global human population, and associated demands for food, fiber, energy, and water. As we look to the future, and attempt to fulfill global restoration commitments and meet sustainable development goals, there is a need to reverse land degradation and biodiversity loss through upscaling ecological restoration. Here, we argue that this upscaling requires an expanded vision for restoration that explicitly accounts for people and nature. This expansion can assess success in a future‐focused way and as improvements relative to a degraded socio‐ecological system. We suggest that upscaling requires addressing governance, legal and ethical challenges, investing in technological and educational capacity building, bolstering the practical science necessary for restoration, encouraging adoptable packages to ensure livelihoods of local stakeholders, and promoting investment opportunities for local actors and industry. Providing SER embraces this socio‐ecological vision, it is ideally placed to aid the achievement of goals and remain globally relevant. SER needs to harness and coordinate three sources of potential energy (global political commitments, the green economy, and local community engagement) to rocket restoration into the Anthropocene. With principles that can embrace flexibility and context‐dependency in minimum restoration standards, SER has the potential to guide socio‐ecological restoration and help realize the ultimate goal of a sustainable Earth.