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A New Method to Help Recover Ecological Functions & Foster the Sustainable Development of Rural Areas

January 10, 2018 |

This article was originally published on British Ecological Society.

Ecologists have developed a new method to prioritize natural sites for restoration actions aimed to improve the provision of ecosystem services. Their findings are published in the Journal of Applied Ecology today.

“Ecosystem services are environmental resources and goods which benefit the general public, e.g. farmland and mine zones provide food and minerals, respectively. The intensive use of the land to produce food and minerals negatively affects the provision of other types of services such as the elimination of pollutants, floods and drought mitigation, and reducing soil loss.

Cultural services (recreational, aesthetic and spiritual benefits), and basic processes (soil formation, biological productivity and habitat conservation) which support these services are also important factors provided by ecosystems. As an example, the margins of a river with clean water and a well-established riparian forest give us much more benefits than those of a river with turbid water and no riparian forest. A landscape made of a mosaic of mountains and leafy valleys with integrated farmlands is much more appreciated than a site with contaminated air produce by smoking factories and intensive agrarian monoculture and big industrial animal farms.

A method has been developed by ecologists from Spain, Switzerland and Colombia in the river Piedra watershed (Guadalajara-Zaragoza, Spain) to select sites and restoration actions aimed to improve the provision of ecosystem services in this area. The method consists of evaluating ecosystem services based on set criteria after field and laboratory work and assigning a relative importance weight to the different services based on the ecological status of the watershed. Soil retention and provision of habitat for biological species are two of the underscored services in the Piedra watershed…”

Read on at: British Ecological Society.

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