What is forest restoration?
The need to repair habitat and restore forest structure and funciton is recognized throughout the temperate and boreal zones as a component of sustainable forest management (Krishnaswamy and Hanson 1999; Dobson et al. 1997). Forest restoration is a complex task, complicated by diverse ecological and social conditions, that challenges our understanding of forest ecosystems. The term restoration is used indiscriminately and it is difficult to define in a way that compasses all situations found in the literature and practive. Generall, restoration is seen as symmetric with degradation: an undisturbed forest in a natural or historical condition can be degraded, and a degraded forest can be restored to that natural or historical condition. As will become apparent, reality is more complicated and the fully restored state is probably unattainable (Cairns 1986; Stanturf and Madsen 2002). Terminology, however, is not merely an academic issue; definitions related to forestry and restoration are used under several international conventions such as climate change and biodiversity where distinctions and nuance have important policy implications (FAO 2002). The objective of this chapter is to provide a conceptual framework for the terms used throughout this book, in order to facilitate understanding of the diverse cultural and ecological contexts for restoration of temperate and boreal forests. This chapter has three parts: an historical context for restoration, which differs geographically; a conceptual framework for understanding the relationship between degradation and restoration; and an attempt to define restoration terms within that framework.