Experimentation essential in saving Earth's degraded land

May 8, 2018, University of Adelaide

Global land degradation is now so severe that hundreds of millions of hectares of land need to be restored back to health. Under the Bonn Challenge, nations have taken on the task of restoring 350 million hectares of degraded land around the globe by 2030.

In research published in the journal Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment, University of Adelaide scientists and their colleagues from the Kunming Institute of Botany and the World Agroforestry Centre in China, have proposed improving techniques for restoring by systematically embedding experiments into largescale activities and projects.

"The repeated nature of provides an unprecedented opportunity to establish them as living laboratories to improve restoration techniques and ensure land degradation is most effectively treated," says Dr. Nick Gellie, School of Biological Sciences, University of Adelaide.

The researchers also propose constructing networks of such embedded restoration experiments to share the knowledge that will be gained from individual experiments globally.

"Industry stakeholders need to develop acceptable industry standards for embedding experiments in restoration," says Dr. Gellie.

"We have identified six key areas in current restoration practices which need to be improved and could be easily addressed using the approach of embedding experiments within restoration projects.

"Successfully achieving the monumental restoration targets such as those in the Bonn Challenge will depend on the effective application of restoration techniques, but there are concerns that intended outcomes may be spoilt by ineffective practices," says Dr. Gellie.

The paper goes on to highlight that important restoration skills based on trial and error could be lost to a new generation of practitioners if professionals who are about to retire from the restoration sector, do not factor in the succession and dissemination of this knowledge.

"The scale of restoration being undertaken globally is completely new territory for the restoration sector," says Professor Andrew Lowe, Chair in Plant Conservation Biology at the University of Adelaide.

"Embedding experiments works: it makes economic and ecological sense. We have had great results using embedded experiments to inform adaptive management for stakeholders here in South Australia, but we are now calling on the broader restoration community to formalise the adoption and creation of evidence-based approaches.

"Exploring the efficacy of restoration through embedded experiments and networking the results is an investment in restoration that is likely to pay generational dividends, in saving the Earth's degraded land," says Professor Lowe.

Explore further: Scaling up efforts to restore forests

Related Stories

Scaling up efforts to restore forests

April 17, 2018

We are at the cusp of a transformation that is changing societal perspectives and values on our environment. The Bonn Challenge – which seeks to restore 150 million hectares of forest by 2020 – represents a global response ...

Recommended for you

After the Big One: Understanding aftershock risk

September 24, 2018

In early September 2018, a powerful earthquake on the island of Hokkaido in northern Japan triggered landslides, toppled buildings, cut power, halted industry, killed more than 40 people and injured hundreds. The national ...

National parks bear the brunt of climate change

September 24, 2018

Human-caused climate change has exposed U.S. national parks to conditions hotter and drier than the rest of the nation, says a new UC Berkeley and University of Wisconsin-Madison study that quantifies for the first time the ...

Ocean acidification may reduce sea scallop fisheries

September 21, 2018

Each year, fishermen harvest more than $500 million worth of Atlantic sea scallops from the waters off the east coast of the United States. A new model created by scientists at the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI), ...

1 comment

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

not rated yet May 13, 2018
Please, the paper's tittle.

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.