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Ecological restoration – What is ecological restoration?

Ecological restoration is the set of those practices aimed at improving or increasing the quantity and quality of natural capital for future generations.

What do we mean by ecological restoration?

The term ‘ecological restoration’ refers to all those actions aimed at restoring natural elements. This is a complementary approach to the classical approach of nature conservation. In a common and synergistic vision, the two disciplines intervene to conserve the natural capital remaining to date in the best possible condition.

In addition, the goal is to increase the quantity and quality of the space available for the expansion of this capital. One intervenes scientifically on an environment so that it can recover what has been lost in the past (species, ecological niches, habitats, ecosystem functions, etc…) in the long term.

Above you can see a glimpse of the Ligurian coastline, where Cystoseira algae, a native Mediterranean species at local risk of extinction in many parts of its range, mainly due to increasing pollution, is dominating.

OutBe is carrying out a specific ecological restoration project on this seaweed, where the increase in local populations is achieved through laboratory breeding of small samples and subsequent affixing of these to rock. This is accomplished through citizen science actions, specifically guided coasteering trips by canoe or kayak.

Why is ecological restoration important?

The science of ecology is relatively new. After years of successes and failures with the classic conservation approach, which very often was limited to protecting what was left, without concern for the long-term effectiveness of the action, we have figured out how to take it a step further and implement more successful long-term projects, preferring these to those that guarantee yes immediate results, but often short-sighted.

With ecological restoration, by shaping the land and planting the right plants in the right place, the conditions are created for spontaneous and lasting recolonization by the affected fauna and flora. Thus, one intervenes more on the plant world than on the animal world, but ultimately ends up benefiting all biodiversity at once.

It is therefore a holistic and sustainable approach that is important for building a common intergenerational vision of regenerating the landscape and its riches.

What are some examples of ecological restoration?

Among the hundreds that exist today, some examples of entities implementing ecological restoration actions include:

  • The European Union-funded LIFE program, which brings together environmental ideas and projects involving both conservation and restoration works;
  • The international Re:Wild project, which focuses landscape-scale restoration works in contexts Central and South America, Africa and Southeast Asia;
  • The European project Rewilding Europe, which focuses landscape-scale restoration works in European contexts, including Italy (see rewiling Apennines);
  • The Spanish Go Setos project, which focuses on creating swaths of vegetation important to pollinators;
  • The Spanish Olivares Vivos project, which is concerned with creating olive plantations that are more hospitable for biodiversity and safer for farmers.

Restoration and OutBe

OutBe offers land protection and improvement services, however, from a dual and complementary perspective: restoration combined with natural capital conservation. This means that it is no longer enough to simply conserve what is left, but to go a step further and begin to regenerate what has been lost, where necessary and where possible.

OutBe offers the opportunity to create small artificial spaces to be naturalized in circumscribed areas. Whether they are ponds surrounded by lawn and hedge, or long strips of vegetation between fields or factories. We create micro-habitats useful for protecting breeding, refuge and feeding places for that biodiversity associated. In the first case, with wetland environments (ponds project), and in the second with pollen (pollinators project).

In fact, the ponds project aims to protect the category of Italian biodiversity that is most threatened at the moment, along with that of dune and littoral environments, namely that of semi-aquatic vertebrates and invertebrates closely dependent on still fresh waters.

The pollinators project, on the other hand, aims to protect another category of biodiversity that is highly threatened today, namely that of the lesser-regarded pollinators, which include butterflies, beetles, flies, and wild bees (not just domestic bees!), among others.

Both projects aim to unite agricultural or industrial realities, hosting the spaces to be created, with external sponsoring realities, through the common goal of a more resilient and widespread biodiversity on the Italian territory (and beyond).

The main tool is a scientifically thoughtful and logistically enduring use of citizen science, through the various stages of realization and evolution of the semi-natural spaces to be created and monitored.