Ecosystem restoration, like climate change and resiliency, must be viewed as a long-term solution with continuous missions integrated into our societal culture in order to achieve a meaningful reversal of the sustained global loss of natural ecosystems and biodiversity. Public understanding and acceptance are crucial and powerful drivers for this essential support.
“It begins with reaching out to as many stakeholder groups as possible, listening to individual concerns, and finding commonalities and key differences,” Samanns said. “Understanding the traditional use of the site targeted for restoration, and sites similar to the restoration target as real-world examples, will help convey to the public how use of a site may change or be enhanced.”
One positive development: more large companies are actively seeking to reduce their carbon generation with a goal of achieving carbon neutrality, and ecosystem restoration can have a role to play in that effort.
A successful approach has been re-envisioning landscaping on corporate campuses to reduce high-maintenance lawn areas by converting them to native grass lands.
“These native grass areas are efficient in building soil carbon and only require one mowing every 2-3 years,” Samanns said. “That results in substantial reduction in fuel use through less mowing and emission of greenhouse gasses. The warm season grasses will also sequester more atmospheric carbon, or about 0.3 to 1.7 metric tons per acre, per year.”
Another way these private firms are promoting environmental stewardship is through the support of regional restoration projects, as well as searching for ways to reduce the impact their business practices have on these natural areas.
Maintaining funding during economic downturns is essential so that gains are not lost due to lack of funding of maintenance and enforcement/protection services. Through targeted investment and contributions, these businesses can be the drivers of successful ecosystem restoration initiatives worldwide.
“Our WSP teams that work on these projects with both public and private clients recognize that they are directly contributing to the solutions to some of our societies long term challenges, such as climate change, losses to biodiversity, coastal resiliency and clean water,” Brunton said. “It is rewarding to have the opportunity to advance ecosystems restoration projects that are complex and often challenging on many levels.”
To read Part 3 of the UN Ecosystem Restoration series on shoreline restoration, click here.
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