The restoration of natural capital, ecosystem health, and human health are mutually beneficial and self-reinforcing

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James Aronson, Suzanne J. Dean, James N. Blignaut, W. Richard J. Dean

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After several international discussions seeking to link the concept of natural capital to the science and practice of ecological restoration, a large group of natural and social scientists, associated with SER, published Restoring Natural Capital: Science, Business and Practice (Island Press) in 2007. Restoring Natural Capital (RNC) is a process consisting of four elements, 1) ecological restoration and rehabilitation of degraded ecosystems, both natural and cultural; 2) reduction of the negative impacts of production systems and 3) of cities, resource extraction and transport; and, equally critical as all the foregoing, 4) promotion of education and communication to increase awareness of the importance of natural capital and ecosystem services. From this RNC group we evolved the concept of a “family of restorative activities”, to provide guidelines for the large-scale restoration that the UN Decade on Restoration, and other international initiatives, propose. This ‘family’ maps well onto the Restorative Continuum, as described in SER International Principles and Standards for the Practice of Ecological Restoration. Because of the multiple, yet connected, benefits derived from restoration we then developed a transdisciplinary, multi-cultural framework (Ecohealth), focusing on the interface of RNC and human health. The RNC approach, and the related concept of ecosystem health, in synergy with essential input from public health professionals and medical doctors, as well as urban and landscape planners, can make both the UN Decade on Ecosystem Restoration and UN Decade for Action on the Sustainable Development Goals, much more effective and attractive, both to broad publics and to policy makers. We present several case studies from Africa, Australasia and elsewhere, and discuss the need for networking to create an agenda for action for the future.

Resource Type:
Conference Presentation, SER2021

Pre-approved for CECs under SER's CERP program