2011 World Conference on Ecological Restoration

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by Carolyn J. Browning, CRA Board Member & Chair of Communications for SER International
Volume 22, Number 3, Fall 2011

Over 1000 participants from more than 70 countries gathered in Merida, Mexico, to attend the 4th World Conference of the Society for Ecological Restoration (SER2011). Delegates discussed challenges and opportunities associated with re-establishing the link between nature and culture. Participants came to the following shared conclusions;

  1. Ecological restoration offers huge promise for re-establishing a healthy relationship between human culture and the natural life support systems upon which it depends.
  2. The economic benefits associated with the restoration of the environment need to be recognized and quantified.
  3. International collaborations are necessary to find appropriate pathways to restore landscapes.
  4. Biological diversity is a necessary component to ensure ecosystem resilience in the face of changing global conditions.

Recognizing the critical importance of global ecological infrastructure as the foundation for biodiversity conservation and ecosystem resilience, sustainable livelihoods, and future economic prosperity, the delegates SER2011 “Call for Action”, strongly urges the Center for Biological Diversity and other entities to;

  1. Integrate ecological restoration into National Biodiversity Strategies and Action Plans as well as legislative and regulatory frameworks which include all sectors of society that use and manage natural capital;
  2. Increasingly use ecological restoration as a tool in ecosystem-based adaptation and mitigation strategies which enhance social and ecological resilience and carbon sequestration and storage;
  3. Prioritize the immediate need to reinstate the flow and improve the quality of ecosystem services to alleviate poverty and increase human well-being while taking into account social, cultural, economic and political values;
  4. Increase stakeholder involvement, public education and awareness to effectively engage local and indigenous communities in restoration activities and safeguard their right to a healthy and sustainable future;
  5. Support and promote investments and incentive mechanisms, such as Payments for Ecosystem Services (PES) and other innovative financial mechanisms, to restore degraded ecosystems and landscapes that provide multiple co-benefits to biodiversity, ecosystems, and communities;
  6. Increasingly use ecological restoration to improve connectivity within and between protected areas and other ecosystems that are critical for biodiversity conservation, and to increase their adaptive capacity through the restoration of degraded habitats, landscapes, and seascapes; and
  7. Adopt guidance for establishing priorities and the goals of restoration activities, and facilitating the transfer of knowledge, tools and technologies.

The SER2011 delegates also call on multilateral and bilateral funding institutions to support, through capacity building and other means, the development and implementation of national and sub-national ecological restoration projects and programs. In addition to the Call for Action, SER is developing a Restoration Practitioners Certification Program and they plan to launch it in 2012. For further information, please contact Carolyn Browning at cbrowning@icfi.com.