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 ES Home > Vol. 7, No. 2 > Art. 4

Copyright © 2003 by the author(s). Published here under license by The Resilience Alliance.

The following is the established format for referencing this article:
Allen, A., S. Kercher, D. Larkin, H. Morzaria-Luna, and M. Peach. 2003. Perrow, M. R., and A. J. Davy, editors. 2002. Handbook of ecological restoration. Volume 1: Principles of restoration. Volume 2: Restoration in practice. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, UK. Conservation Ecology 7(2): 4. [online] URL: http://www.consecol.org/vol7/iss2/art4/

Book Review

Perrow, M. R., and A. J. Davy, editors. 2002. Handbook of Ecological Restoration. Volume 1: Principles of Restoration; Volume 2: Restoration in Practice. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, UK.

Anastasia Allen, Suzanne Kercher, Daniel Larkin, Hem-Nalini Morzaria-Luna, and Michelle Peach

University of Wisconsin-Madison

Published: July 31, 2003

In their Handbook of Ecological Restoration, Perrow and Daly (2002) provide the first comprehensive guide to this subject. The more than 1000 pages are divided into two volumes: Principles of Restoration and Restoration in Practice. The first summarizes a diversity of current restoration practices; it also covers the philosophy behind restoration, current paradigms, policy, and some of the theories that guide practice. Volume 2 is concerned with practical applications for specific ecosystem types. The separation of the handbook into chapters of narrower scope (e.g., chemical treatment of water and sediments, microorganisms, birds) makes Volume 1 user-friendly, and the detailed case studies in Volume 2 effectively link many of the themes discussed in Volume 1.

Volume 1 is divided into five parts: background, manipulation of the physical environment, manipulation of the chemical environment, manipulation of the biota, and monitoring and appraisal. The background section, which is dedicated to ecological restoration theory, opens with a reassertion of the theoretical foundation for ecological restoration based on ideas first put forward by Jordan et al. (1987) more than a decade ago. The following four chapters in this section attempt to justify restoration and provide a context for its execution. A discussion of human activities and philosophies touches on the tendency of human societies to deny the environmental degradation surrounding them, their disassociation from nature, and their obsession with economic growth. There is also a timely examination of the threats to environmental protection and restoration posed by war and terrorism. The remaining three chapters in this section consider ecological restoration from the perspectives of landscape ecology, population ecology, and evolutionary ecology. Although these chapters are informative and well written, there is significant overlap in the perspectives they offer, leaving the reader to wonder if more diverse viewpoints should have been included, such as those from community or ecosystem ecology.

Parts 2, 3, and 4 of Volume 1 deal with the physical, chemical, and biotic aspects of habitat manipulation, respectively. These chapters cover a variety of restoration practices and variables, and include case studies from around the world. A chapter that is typical of the breadth and thoroughness of these studies analyzes the manipulation of fish communities as part of restoration, from species-centered restoration to biomanipulation, and discusses the social and economic impact of these practices using a case study of the ecological and sociological impact of carp aquaculture in Mexico.

The final section of Volume 1 offers a cursory overview of monitoring. It highlights important points in planning monitoring for a range of ecosystems, but no specific examples are given. Two or three detailed case studies outlining the challenges of monitoring would have been useful. In general, Volume 1 summarizes relevant restoration and ecological literature without oversimplifying. The concepts put forward provide a good general introduction to the theory that drives restoration projects and is a useful complement to the focus on specific habitat types in Volume 2.

The second volume is divided into two parts covering restoration policy and infrastructure and the biomes. The first part suggests several strategies for incorporating restoration priorities into policy and infrastructure decisions at the regional, national, and international levels. Although the challenges dealt with in this section are daunting because of their variety and magnitude, the success stories and case studies presented in this section suggest useful strategies for addressing restoration policy and infrastructure deficiencies.

The volume begins with an international survey of restoration policy and infrastructure, including perspectives from the Americas, particularly the United States; Europe; Africa; Asia, especially India and China; and Oceania. The chapters include some combination of case studies, in-depth analyses of a particular restoration concern, broader summaries of the current political climate for restoration in a region, and more abstract explorations of policy and infrastructure challenges. This section makes the point that, although the specific restoration problems in each region of the world differ, restorationists everywhere are struggling to make restoration planning and implementation a priority in policy and infrastructure development. Other issues, such as institutional weakness in Africa or development policy in Europe, overshadow or block progress toward the restoration policy agenda.

Most of the chapters open with a description of the broader restoration context in the region, but a few do not. A general overview in each chapter of regional restoration priorities would have improved the flow between chapters and made it easier for the reader to integrate the main points. In a very interesting way, the book compares areas of emphasis between regions instead of splitting along traditional north-south or developed-developing lines. For example, the United States, China, and India are grouped together because of their concern about mine reclamation, and the chapters devoted to these countries outline their difficulties in restoring the mines, mitigating the damage from leaching, and disposing of tailings. Although their environmental concerns are very similar, their political strategies and responses differ, because they have different mining histories, political institutions, social climates, and resource availability. The chapters on Europe, Africa, and Oceania, on the other hand, focus more on nature conservation and protecting or restoring communities of native plants and animals. The threats to natural communities are more difficult to pinpoint than mining locations and also more difficult to regulate through policy and infrastructure. Protecting clean water and forests, addressing urban development, and minimizing the effects of agriculture are mentioned for all three regions. Both Europe and Oceania emphasize international agreements and policies in addition to national or local regulation of restoration issues. There are examples of restoration projects and policies in Africa, but international efforts do not figure prominently. Africa has a very different backdrop with respect to government stability, scientific expertise, and economic resources than those of Europe or Oceania, so again, even though similar problems arise, the solutions have taken different forms

The second part of Volume 2 gives specific examples of applied restoration for 19 aquatic and terrestrial biomes as diverse as polar tundra, calcareous grasslands, and coral reefs. As acknowledged by the editors, even in a text as substantial as this, the biomes and methodologies outlined are not inclusive; instead, their intent was to demonstrate the broad range of experiences across a variety of habitat types that will be relevant to other systems. Each biome chapter describes the ecosystem, sources of degradation, and approaches to restoration. The strength of the biome chapters lies in the illustration of the differences in styles of restoration and the practical instruction of techniques. Indeed, the handbook's intent is to present restoration science in practical terms, which is accomplished particularly well in the case studies.

The contribution by Tongway and Ludwig (2002) exemplifies the strength of this volume by providing a critical emphasis on defining ecosystem function and underlying ecological considerations when choosing restoration techniques. Their chapter discusses the historical context of degradation in Australian semi-arid lands and savannas and presents case studies of both passive and active rehabilitation projects. They then describe the paradigm shift that resulted in an ecosystem function framework and an experimental rehabilitation based on landscape function.

The different styles of the contributors and the variety of challenges encountered during restoration are also instructive. For example, the biome chapter on semi-arid woodland and desert fringes discusses the enormous challenge posed by the restoration of 12 x 106 km2 of degraded dry lands. The impact on dry lands of human population increases, the unequal distribution of resources, and the limited carrying capacity of the dry lands requires the coupling of rural development with biodiversity conservation, ecosystem management, and ecological restoration. The chapter on Atlantic heath lands describes an ecosystem that was formed by forest clearances 4000–5000 yr ago as a successional stage between pioneer vegetation and forest that requires management to persist. This discussion of conservation management as a component of ecological restoration illustrates the importance placed on particular habitat types that are a product of ongoing and/or historical manipulation of the environment. Thus, Volume 2 provides good examples of restoration practices in a variety of systems. In addition, it makes some effort to put restoration practices into the context of ecological theories, although the book could have made this a more explicit, central theme throughout.

The Handbook of Ecological Restoration does have some shortcomings, among them the cost. A major oversight is the lack of discussion on how to design restoration experiments, which is crucial for both improving restoration and refining theories. A brief examination of restoration experiments, i.e., why, when, and how to conduct them, and their contribution to theory, with references to papers such as Michener (1997) would have been a useful part of this text. Also, adaptive management should have played a prominent role in this text. Adaptive management is used in a growing number of restoration projects to maintain restoration trajectories, e.g., in the Estuary Enhancement Program in the Delaware Bay (Weinstein et al. 2001). The book also fails to analyze the interactions between humans and nature and the "human" component of restoration as in Gobster and Hull (2000), who examine how human values and the meaning people attach to landscapes influence management decisions. Another weakness is a perhaps necessary trade-off between breadth and depth, i.e., reading the chapter on the restoration of a certain group of taxa does not provide enough information to carry out such a restoration, as the name "handbook" would imply.

However, the Handbook of Ecological Restoration is scientifically sound and a major contribution to the field, and will certainly be a useful textbook for the student of restoration ecology as well as a helpful reference book for both teachers and practitioners of restoration. Readers will become familiar with the general principles underlying restoration ecology; gain an appreciation of the complex physical, biotic, social, and economic factors that influence the restoration of habitats; and be exposed to the wide array of restoration techniques that are available to achieve specific goals.


Perrow, M. R., and A. J. Davy, editors. 2002. Handbook of Ecological Restoration. Volume 1: Principles of Restoration. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, UK. 460 pp., hardcover, U.S.$105.00, ISBN 0521791286. Volume 2: Restoration in Practice. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, UK. 618 pp., hardcover, U.S.$105.00, ISBN 0521791294



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Gobster, P. H., and R. B. Hull, editors. 2000. Restoring nature: perspectives from the social sciences and humanities. Island Press, Washington, D.C., USA.

Jordan, W. R., III, M. E. Gilpin, and J. D. Aber, editors. 1987. Restoration ecology: a synthetic approach to ecological research. Cambridge University Press, New York, New York, USA.

Michener, W. K.1997. Quantitatively evaluating restoration experiments: research designs, statistical analysis, and data management consideration. Restoration Ecology 5:324-337.

Perrow, M. R., and A. J. Daly, editors. 2002. Handbook of ecological restoration. Volume 1: Principles of restoration. Volume 2: Restoration in practice. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, UK.

Tongway, D. J., and J. A. Ludwig. 2002. Australian semi-arid lands and savannas. Pages 486-502 in M. R. Perrow and A. J. Daly, editors. Handbook of ecological restoration. Volume 2: Restoration in practice. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, UK.

Weinstein, M. P., J. M. Teal, J. H. Balletto, and K. Strait. 2000. Restoration principles emerging from one of the world's largest tidal marsh restoration projects. Wetlands Ecology and Management 9:387-407.

Address of Correspondent:
Hem-Nalini Morzaria-Luna
Department of Botany
University of Wisconsin-Madison
Madison, Wisconsin 53706 USA
Phone: (608) 265-9722
Fax: (608) 262-4509

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