Habitat restoration seeks to repair areas that have been subjected to habitat destruction, one of the primary factors involved in causing species of plants and animals to be threatened with extinction. Activities important to maintaining civilization such as agriculture, development, mining, oil drilling, logging, and road building alter natural ecosystems. Habitat destruction can be obvious, such as clearing old-growth forests for timber and draining wetland areas to use the land for raising crops, but it can also be more insidious. Habitat destruction alters the normal abundance and distribution of species in the habitat. All of these types of disturbances require restoration if the land is to be viable in the future.
Habitat restoration is important for reasons varying from aesthetic and recreational to economic and pragmatic. Returning disturbed land to health can add to existing habitats, making them larger and thereby helping to protect species against the dangers of small population sizes. Restoring areas that have been damaged through human use can allow an area to be used again for another purpose. For example, areas that have been mined are often acidic and have high heavy-metal concentrations, making it difficult for native plants to be reestablished in the area. Restoring these areas can help to make the habitat healthy again. In the future, the same land could be available for timber harvesting or recreational parkland, or as a wildlife refuge. Healthy forests and riparian zones help control erosion and maintain good water quality in streams and lakes. Reforestation and restoring damaged riparian zones helps ensure clean drinking water, control floods, and maintain healthy fish and amphibian populations.
Habitat restoration is accomplished through management, protection, and reestablishment of plants by returning abiotic factors (e.g., soil chemistry, water content, disturbance) and biotic factors (e.g., species composition, interactions among species) to historical levels.
Keystone Environmental biologists have completed terrestrial and freshwater/marine habitat restorations and enhancement plans. These plans have been completed to enhance an environmental setback or protection area and to reduce the impact of development, or as habitat compensation to offset environmental impacts of a project including:
- Developing and implementing Habitat Compensation plans in accordance with client needs and regulatory guidelines (e.g. instream fish habitat and riparian revegetation projects)
- Evaluate and implement stream restoration initiatives
- Post construction monitoring of compensation and restoration plans