Chin J Plant Ecol ›› 2010, Vol. 34 ›› Issue (1): 112-118.DOI: 10.3773/j.issn.1005-264x.2010.01.014

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An intellectual enquiring about ecological restoration and recovery, their scientific implication and approach

ZHANG Xin-Shi1,2,*()   

  1. 1Institute of Botany, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing 100093, China
    2College of Resources Science & Technology, Beijing Normal University, Beijing 100875, China
  • Received:2009-05-17 Accepted:2009-12-02 Online:2010-05-17 Published:2010-01-01
  • Contact: ZHANG Xin-Shi


Aims Ecological restoration is one of the most active and key activities in contemporary ecology. But, it has been translated in Chinese as “ecological recovery”. By means of checking its English meaning and evolved processes, it is suggested that, instead of “recovery”, change it in Chinese as “ecological reestablishment”. Because ecological restoration must involve human intention or agency, it is fundamentally about assisted recovery that works to accelerate natural processes. But, in case where ecological processes have worked unassisted or something that can happen by nature itself without human agency, the term, “recovery” should be used.

Important findings There are at least three time scales for natural recovery and ecological restoration. They are the geologic period scale (103, 106, 109 a), ecosystem regeneration and succession scale (10, 102, 103 a), and ecological restoration scale (1, 10, 102 a). The 1st and 2nd scale are time scales for natural recovery, they are 10-102-103times longer than ecological restoration periods. Humans could not over-scaled depending on the capacity of natural recovery. The incompatibility of natural recovery and restoration in time scales is the basic cause of why natural recovery cannot meet the ecological demands of human society. The author raises doubt to the statement of “put the natural recovery as the major objective”, and “transfer the major objective from the ecological restoration to natural recovery”. The author beliefs that to shift responsibility of restoration onto nature itself and recovery at long-last recovery is the logic of lazybones and unwilling to be responsible. That is violation of the acknowledged global environmental truth that “who destroys who should compensate; who pollutes who should eliminate; who enjoys, who should pay”. Besides recovery and restoration natural ecosystems, designed ecological solutions will go beyond restoring a past ecosystem, but creat a kind of coupled natural-artificial ecosystems that will be part of a future sustainable world.

Key words: designed ecological solutions, ecological integrity, ecological restoration, exotic species, historical fedility, natural recovery, period scale