IWSN researchers Bimo Nkhata and Charles Breen have contributed a chapter to the newly-published book Ecological Restoration: Global Challenges, Social Aspects and Environmental Benefits (edited by Victor R. Squires). The book aims to fill some of the information gaps in ecological restoration, particularly in under-researched ecosystems around the world. It contains fourteen chapters covering various terrestrial ecosystems, wetlands, river systems, mine site rehabilitation, marsh ecology and heavy metals pollution.
The contribution from Bimo and Charles was co-authored with Ernita van Wyk (South African National Biodiversity Institute) and Wayne Freimund (University of Montana). The chapter, Sustaining Ecological Restoration through Social Transformation, specifically looks at how restoration typically involves the reestablishment of pre-disturbance functions and related physical, chemical and biological features of ecological systems. The authors illustrate why and how restoration requires the reconstruction of antecedent physical conditions, chemical adjustment of the soil and water components, as well as biological manipulation including the reintroduction of absent native flora and fauna.
Using a case study of ecological restoration in an urban environment, the authors show how an urban community in Tokai, a large residential suburb of Cape Town, South Africa, struggled to restore a forest which had been occupied by shaded commercial plantation for over a hundred years. Over the course of a century, the government’s Forestry Department made several attempts to reconstruct Tokai Forest based on the continuously changing societal perceptions and demands of the local community, particularly involving recreation groupings. Ultimately, this case study demonstrates how timely alignments between the physical ecological infrastructure and the management system can lead to resilience and improved adaptive capacity.
Overall, as the blurb explains, this edited book is targeted at ‘planners of projects to restore and manage degraded ecosystems; practitioners who implement those plans; resource managers who oversee the sites; land management consultants; environmental authorities; conservationists; and students of natural resource management.’