Ecology, Evolution and Organismal Biology
Journal or Book Title
As programmes and projects aimed at addressing wetland degradation gain momentum in South Africa, it is critical that related ideas are communicated among and between researchers, practitioners, management agencies, land-owners and the general public in a common language. This paper explores the meaning of ‘restoration’ and ‘rehabilitation’; terms that we suggest are key to understanding and advancing South Africa’s efforts to address wetland degradation. In its essence, the paper is a critical review of wetland ecosystem repair concepts and terminology from local and international literature. The major products of the paper are proposed definitions of the terms ‘restoration’ and ‘rehabilitation’ in a South African wetland science and management context. Although the terms are often used interchangeably, we argue that their absolute distinction will allow scientists and practitioners to better understand what it is that ecosystem repair interventions aim to achieve. We suggest that the terms be distinguished on the basis of what could be considered their respective ecological starting points, where ‘restoration’ applies to part of a system or a system in its entirety that has been completely and permanently, but not irreparably altered, and essentially removed from the landscape, and ‘rehabilitation’ applies to part of a system or a system in its entirety that has not been removed from the landscape through complete and permanent alteration, but is in a degraded state. Thus, ‘wetland restoration’ is defined as the process of reinstating natural ecological driving forces within part or the whole of a completely and permanently altered wetland to recover former or desired ecosystem structure, function, biotic composition and ecosystem services, while ‘wetland rehabilitation’ is defined as the process of reinstating natural ecological driving forces within part or the whole of a degraded wetland to recover former or desired ecosystem structure, function, biotic composition and ecosystem services.
Water Research Commission
Grenfell, M. C.; Ellery, W. N.; Garden, S. E.; Dini, J.; and van der Valk, A. G., "The language of intervention: A review of concepts and terminology in wetland ecosystem repair" (2007). Ecology, Evolution and Organismal Biology Publications. 294.