Thursday, January 7, 2010

This Century’s Science of Hope: implementing ecological restoration as a strategy for climate change response and low carbon-green cities

By Linda Krippner, IUTC Visiting Instructor, Krippner Consulting LLC.

Low carbon-green cities aim to sustain human populations by mitigating the effects of climate change and restoring healthy ecosystems. Our increasing use of natural resources and expanding urban areas threaten the health of the ecosystems and the strength of the economies that sustain us. In addition, climate change resulting from increasing human sources of greenhouse gas emissions threatens ecosystem and economic balance globally. Urbanization and climate change have similar effects in that they both contribute to a loss of biodiversity and they change the intensity of flooding, causing damage to both ecosystems and infrastructure. Therefore restoration techniques used in the U.S.A. to compensate for urban development can also play a role in adapting to climate change and maintaining ecosystem health. Three restoration projects from Washington State, U.S.A. are described to show how different types of restoration design are being used to restore ecosystem health under the pressures of both urban development and climate change. All of the projects enhance habitats and biodiversity. Loss of biodiversity is a major global concern. Other ecosystem functions restored by the projects include flood management, water quality treatment, and aquifer recharge. Increasing these functions through restoration provides human populations and the diversity of life on earth ways of adapting to the increasing effects of climate change.

Below is an excerpt from Stormy Weather: 101 Solutions to Global Climate Change (Dauncey and Mazza, 2001) highlighting the importance of this science of hope and the dreams that can be fulfilled with it:

From Scotland, Alan Watson Featherstone is spreading the idea that the United Nations should declare the 21st century a “Century of Ecological Restoration.” He is proposing that an Earth Restoration Service be created, enrolling volunteers from all over the world to restore the mangroves to Vietnam’s Mekong Delta, the cedar forests to Lebanon, the Caledonian pine forest to Scotland; to clean polluted beaches; to remove unnecessary roads from wild places; to take down the dams that block wild rivers; to clean toxic waste sites; to restore the forest to the African Sahel; to heal the holes in the ozone layer; to restore the atmosphere to its previous balance; to fill the world’s cities with trees and gardens; to restore the Black Sea and the Aral Sea to their former health; to return the tiger to India and the wild buffalo to the American prairies; to return the beaver to Scotland, the wolf to Japan, the Arabian oryx to the wild Oman.