Friday, December 31, 2004

reassurance -
sometimes i need to be reassured. but i wont tell you that.

i havent been sleeping. ive been thinking about something i had no control over.
ambiguity, or something.

so i am tired.

Tuesday, December 14, 2004

The papers discussed by Katz and Light were both focused on the social, cultural and political factors behind restoration, but they were deficient in the “hard” science behind restoration. I have been asked to suggest some scientific based papers to help support the arguments made by these gentlemen. I’ll begin with Katz. Katz’s paper entitled “Another look at restoration: technology and artificial nature” combated the notion that restoration is, in fact, natural. Katz argues that once nature is subjugated to human intervention/intention then that natural entity becomes a human artifact.
Katz argues that restoration is not an analogue of nature and that a restored area or system is not the same as a natural one. In fact he believes that restoration actually devalues natural entities. To provide a scientific backing to this argument I would have included information from the paper by Stanturf et al. (2001). The paper discusses myths associated with restoration success. One especially pertinent myth with regards to Katz’s argument would be restoration could proceed with out management. Katz claimed that restoration is not a natural entity but rather a human artifact. He also claimed that there is some truth in saying that nature can “restore” itself, but not really because it can never have the same origin, historical continuity or authenticity once it has been affected by humans. Stanturf et al. (2001) claimed that restoration cannot proceed without management and they gave scientific backings to corroborate this claim. Katz could have used this to further prove that restoration is a result of human intervention; a restored area needs humans to manage it to be successful. If humans are needed to actively manage an area then nature has not been restored and furthermore the continuation of human intervention supports the idea that restoration is a human artifact and not a natural entity.
Light’s article “Ecological restoration and the culture of nature: a pragmatic perspective” discusses views of Katz and Elliot on the ethics of restoration. Light differs in opinion from Katz and views ecological restoration differently. Light believes that there is value in restoration and that in can improve a degraded area and he even concedes and agrees that restoration can be considered artificial. To add scientific support to the idea that restoration can have positive content can also be supported by the Stanturf et al (2001) paper, I would include ideas from the myth: desired future condition can be specified. Stanturf et al. (2001) describe how that even though a future condition cannot be specified function can be restored to an ecosystem. According to Light this replacement of function to a degraded site would be positive content resulting from a restoration. The site would contain value it would otherwise not have prior to restoration efforts.
Katz discusses ideas from Robert Elliot in his paper including that Elliot’s type-restoration ideas are really the same as the “replacement thesis.” Katz disagrees with the replacement thesis, as he does not believe that humans can restore/replace nature to a pre-human intervention condition. The paper by Zedler and Callaway (1999) discusses the ability of wetland mitigation restorations to follow a restoration trajectory and I believe that Katz could have included information from this paper to add a scientific basis for his arguments. Zedler and Callaway discuss the restoration of highly degraded sites and that there are many factors that interfere with ecosystem development. They also state that it is unlikely that such sites will follow a trajectory or meet goals because of high interannual variation. Katz could have used their findings to confirm his belief that humans cannot restore or create nature. The fact that these mitigation sites did not meet expectations and did not show promise of doing so in a timely manner would emphasize Katz view that humans do not have the ability to create or rather, re-create nature.
Light discussing Katz describes how one of Katz’s problems with restoration is it restricts nature from “self-realization.” Light sees this as Katz confusing restoration with mitigation. Light (2000) states, “that it is nonanthropocentric nature that sets goals for restoration, not humans.” On the contrary, mitigation is humans setting the goals for restoration. In the paper by Zedler and Callaway (1999) there is discussion about a mitigation site and its success. Light could use the results from this paper to prove scientifically that mitigation sites are different from other restoration and that there success is much harder to achieve and that they can be, and often are, created in areas where nature is not the designer. He then could use an example from another paper where restoration did succeed to further show the dichotomy between restoration and mitigation sites.
Katz throughout his paper emphasizes the danger of human hubris and the human belief that they can do anything, including the ecological restoration of nature. He makes the point several times that humans cannot restore nature and are only creating artifacts. To add a scientific base for this argument I would include the paper by N.R. Webb (1997), which spoke of restoring the Dorset heathlands. The paper deals with the best ways to approach restoration including practical and ecological considerations. Some of the questions it asks are whether to provide corridors for unlinked populations, minimize edge on existing patches, enhancing areas surrounding patches, et cetera. These questions are provided to develop a framework for ecological restoration. Katz could use this to support his argument. The fact that one would have to consider what type of restoration to perform, instead of a complete restoration due to myriad factors would prove the restoration does not restore nature. Nature would not have to ask permission to restore. This shows, scientifically, the shortcomings of humans in their ability to restore they cannot restore everything and have to prioritize aspects of nature over each other.
Light makes the argument that even if restorations are an artifact they can bear a resemblance to the “real thing.” He believes that if people, ecologists, restoratioinsts, et cetera actually partake in restoration efforts it would have the reverse of what Katz would consider humans domination over nature. If people experience first hand restoring nature and saw what human domination and harm has done to a degraded site they can better understand what causes this harm and how to object to it. Using results from the N.R. Webb (1997) paper Light could show how restoration efforts such as these could help connect people with nature, or the as he call is the “culture of nature.” Webb described the Dorest heathlands as being 85% destroyed by either agriculture or other development. With a decrease in farming land has become available to restore. Webb discusses the need to use all facets of populations, communities, and ecosystems to develop a useful criterion for ecological restoration. This approach at developing a criteria using scientific merit would enhance Light’s argument that this would help people become connected with nature and understand what degrades and what needs to be done to prevent further degradation.
Both authors make strong arguments that could appeal to a variety of audiences. However, the addition of pure science examples would enrich their arguments and expand their influence into a more bounteous audience. I believe that the suggestions I have made would allow for such an influx.

Although it is a more recent development in the scientific community, ecological restoration is a discipline that is not devoid of myths. Stanturf et al. (2001) addressed nine myths, misunderstandings, or partial truths that have surfaced while evaluating the success of bottomland hardwood forest restoration.

Afforestation is not the same as restoration. In my opinion the authors dispel this myth too readily. I don’t believe that this myth is entirely false, though it appears that the authors, contrary to their initial statements, do not either. I agree with their claim that afforestation is a necessary step in any forest restoration process. Furthermore, they assert that functional attributes are highly correlated to vegetation, especially forest cover, and also that a component of the hydroperiodicity of an area is the amount of canopy evapotranspiration. Afforestation is indeed related to both of these aspects, and the reintroduction of trees is an obligatory phase for restoring a bottomland forest. However, I cannot dismiss the myth that afforestation is not the same as restoration, simply because it is not. Ecosystems are exceedingly complex (more knowledge gained about them reveals yet much more that is still unknown – “the more you learn, the less you know”). The primary physical component responsible for maintaining bottomland hardwood forests is hydrologic regime, which has been drastically altered in most regions by human activities; flooding of riparian areas has increased in intensity and frequency. An afforested bottomland area will likely become a monoculture of trees (like silver maple) that are tolerant of intense flood events. This scenario could be likened to a plantation, rather than a natural functioning ecosystem. Yet according to the refutation of the myth, this reforested area would be a restoration success. Even Stanturf et al. (2001) go on to state, “There is more to restoration of a bottomland ecosystem than afforestation.” It seems then, the authors may have meant to say that afforestation is an important step in restoration. Certainly, restoration of bottomland forests is a much more intricate process than reforestation. Later, the authors claim that afforestation is a vital component of a restoration project, keeping the myth intact. Bluntly, afforestation is a tool of restoration, and not an analogue.

Restoration is easy – Anyone can do it. If restoration is viewed as afforestation, which it is not, then many believe that it is an easy task and that anyone can do it. If we follow in the misguided footsteps of the authors and view afforestation as restoration we will see that it is still not easy. Some of the problems that occur are poor seed sources, ill-prescribed species, improper storage of seeds and seedlings, and poor planting techniques. People also try to transfer the successes of one site and apply them to others. This approach is like prescribing everyone the same drug for a symptom of a stomachache; this is not a good idea if you are not aware of individual patient’s histories. They provide data for their attack on the myth, stating that 90% of the area enrolled in an afforestation WRP program in Mississippi failed. Furthermore, following my opinion that afforestation is not restoration, it can be seen that restoration is not easy as well, because if afforestation fails and is only one step then, statistically speaking, this multi-step task would fair even worse.

Desired future condition can be specified. Many people enjoy using reference sites as a gauge of restoration success. The authors view this method as problematic due to various factors. If one uses reference forests from the past they are neglecting to look at changes of the environment such as alteration of the flood regime and climate. The authors think that a better way to evaluate success is that of function and not naturalness. The fiction behind this myth is that future condition cannot be specified, at least at the individual level, and thus shouldn’t be used a guide to evaluate restoration success. To improve on this myth I would integrate the idea that nature isn’t linear. Using some of the ideas from Young et al. (2001), given all the factors present on a “successional trajectory,” we should expect different outcomes, at least on an individual level, to have a certain degree of uncertainty within them.

The same strategy is appropriate to all ownerships. I agree with the authors that this is absolutely a myth about restoration. The authors distinguish between private and public lands and the differences between restoring them. They discuss the differences in management goals and in restoration applications of such lands. This myth is a blanket statement and these are huge generalizations that are not custom-tailored to each and every system.

Plantations have no wildlife value. According to the authors of this paper, others have shown that there is value in intensively managed forest stands. However, many wildlife managers would like to opt for the lower-cost extensively managed approach. This approach typically takes at least 20 years before forested stand conditions exist. During this time many opportunities for species other than game species would be lost and the resulting stand would be insufficient to manage well. An intensive stand approach would provide more diversity at much more rapid rate as well provide opportunities for manipulating stand composition. Here, the authors explain how some plantations do indeed have wildlife value. I agree with them insofar as saying that this is a myth. Plantations do provide value for wildlife albeit contrived.

Understocked stands are sufficient. Canopy cover is the criterion for success of a forest stand. An intensively stocked stand can be considered a success in as a few as 2 years whereas an extensively stocked may take 20-40 years to reach the same level of canopy cover. For human desires related to management the 2 year track is much more desirable. Keeping this in mind, the statement “understocked stands are sufficient” is true. To improve this myth I would be sure to include something about humans and human conception/value of time, otherwise this myth would be true and not a falsehood. In my opinion to debase this myth one needs to use a timeline more suited to humans than say nature.

Preservation is the only valid goal. I agree with the authors that this is a myth. There should be other goals in a restoration plan besides preservation. The authors see ecological restoration as an element in the continuum model of sustainable forest management. They see restoration of a forest as moving the forest along a continuum from degraded to natural, which as a functional component goes from restoration to self-renewal. Since management is incorporated into many restoration plans, we would expect that harvesting might occur. The authors agree that this is feasible and with this they continue to negate that preservation is the only valid goal. To further disintegrate this myth, I would discuss, to a degree, what it means to restore a site. According to Katz (2000), restoration is not natural but rather a human artifact. Restoration functions, then, only to fulfill a human want, and if that desire is not preservation, then there are other valid goals. Also, restoration is not a complete transmogrification of what a degraded area now is into what it once was; rather, it renews certain facets of a said natural area. If someone only restores the properties related to sport fishery of a certain lake, then their goal is not preservation, but they are still restoring an area.

Ecological and economical goals are incompatible. I agree with the authors that this statement is indeed a myth. At a rudimentary level it requires a dichotomy between ecology and economy and nothing is that simple. There reasoning for absolving this myth is that, yes, these two are not mutually exclusive. With regards to forest restoration and wildlife management they state how there are cases where selective harvesting improves vegetative structure for wildlife. This harvested timber could be sold and ease some of the economic burden related to the wildlife management. To further expound upon this myth I would talk about ecosystem services. A restored area that is moving on the trajectory from restoration to self-renewal could provide other services that do not usually have a value attached to them. Processes such as erosion control, flood control, et cetera could be expected to occur at some restored ecosystems and these services could provide economic relief to said area.

Restoration can proceed without management. The authors are self-reportedly pro-management people and they believe that an extensive strategy does not meet federal program objectives for restoration and that the more benefits realized from intensive benefits outweigh the increased costs. I would disagree that restoration can proceed without management is a myth. Excluding major disruption i.e. mining, toxic waste, et cetera nature has a way of restoring itself without human intervention. The problem with this idea for humans is the timeline. Obviously, a “natural restoration” would take longer than most humans are willing or able to wait. However, this doesn’t stop nature from moving on its path towards the natural condition found on the restoration trajectory. According to Katz (2000), restoration is a human intervention and with that comes human time frames. Time is a human-contrived notion; nature’s perception is different from ours.

I agree with the authors for the most part on many of their arguments. Where I failed to agree with them was typically on issues related to timelines and conceptions about restoration as restoring nature rather than creating a system to produce a human want.

time is passing AS it often does.

Wednesday, December 01, 2004

what does anyone think about this saying or ones like it: "Thank God its not worse." Is this just humans wanting to rationalize things? we would never say "Thank God its not better," would we?