Transformational restoration: novel ecosystems in Denmark
Restoring the estimated 1 billion hectares of degraded forests must consider future climate accompanied by novel ecosystems. Transformational restoration can play a key role in adaptation to climate change but it is conceptually the most divergent from contemporary approaches favoring native species and natural disturbance regimes. Here, we review concepts of novelty in ecosystems with examples of emergent/neonative and designed novel ecosystems, with application to transformational restoration. Danish forests have a high degree of novelty and provide a realistic context for discussing assisted migration, one method of transformational adaptation. Deforestation and impacts of past land use created a highly degraded landscape dominated by heathland in western Denmark. Restoration with non-native species began 150 years ago because the native broadleaves could not establish on the heathlands. Danish forestry continues to rely extensively on non-native species. Preparing for transformational adaptation requires risky research today to prepare for events in the future and refugia from the last glaciation may provide genetic material better adapted to future climate. A new project will test whether species and provenances from the Caspian forests in Iran possess greater genetic diversity and superior resistance (physiological adaptability) and resilience (evolutionary adaptability) and possibly a gene pool for future adaptation.