Ecological restoration of habitats and ecosystems

Post Date
28 February 2023
Ida Bailey
Read Time
4 minutes

Habitats and ecosystems form the framework around which biodiversity and other ecosystem services (such as carbon sequestration, soils, flood mitigation, pollination, pest control, nitrate filtering, and cultural amenity) exist.

Degradation of habitats puts these services and people and businesses that depend on them at risk.

The value of ecological restoration to society

“To respond to current global environmental challenges and to sustain the flow of ecosystem services and goods essential for human wellbeing, global society must secure a net gain in the extent and functioning of native ecosystems by investing not only in environmental protection, but also in environmental repair including ecological restoration. This repair must be implemented at multiple scales to achieve measurable effects worldwide (Society for Ecological Restoration, 2019).”

Understanding how to create, restore and manage habitats and ecosystems (ecological restoration), and integrate them in to project plans is crucial in an age where we are responding to the dual challenges of climate change and the biodiversity crisis and associated changes in policy and legislation.

The current state of biodiversity

  • The UK has lost 47% of its biodiversity since the industrial revolution, this is worse than any of the G7 group of nations. The global average is 25% loss with 10% loss considered the safe limit to prevent an ecological recession [1].
  • Globally 1 in 4 species are at risk of extinction, with an average 70% decline in populations of mammals, birds, fish reptiles and amphibians.
  • The world failed to meet most of the 20 Aichi Biodiversity targets in set in 2011 for 2020[2].

What is ecological restoration?

The process of assisting the recovery of an ecosystem that has been degraded, damaged or destroyed1

What is ecosystem restoration?

Ecosystem restoration is sometimes used interchangeably with ecological restoration, but ecological restoration always addresses biodiversity conservation and ecological integrity, whereas some approaches to ecosystem restoration may focus solely on the delivery of other ecosystem services1.

Benefits of ecological restoration for businesses

  • Comply with environmental legislation e.g. biodiversity net gain requirements in England, Scotland National Planning Framework 4 (when implemented), European Nature Restoration Law[3] (if passed);
  • Improve environmental performance in terms of impacts on biodiversity and other ecosystem services;
  • Demonstrate a values-driven culture and enhance reputation with customers, staff and society by supporting projects with positive environmental outcomes;
  • Reduce business risks and improve ecosystem resilience e.g. by reducing direct threats to infrastructure by implementing nature-based solutions for flood mitigation upstream of key sites;
  • Develop stronger ties with local communities and other stakeholders, and therefore more resilient projects e.g. through participatory planning approaches; and
  • Leave a nature positive legacy for future generations.

The role of industry

Industry is helping to lead the way toward a regenerative future via ESG commitments, carbon, biodiversity and other natural capital markets and other voluntary mechanisms, as well as responding to legal and policy changes in the environmental sector.

We are seeing a rapid increase in the number of businesses of all sizes choosing to make ambitious environmental commitments and invest in biodiversity and natural capital projects.

Our habitat and ecosystem restoration services are designed to help our clients to meet their environmental aspirations and commitments, through projects designed to take a practical, holistic view of natural capital that deliver a lasting legacy for people and nature set in the local context.

How we can help

  • SLR are a multi-disciplinary consultancy with expertise in ecology, landscape, cultural heritage, hydrology and others;
  • SLR has specialists in ecological impact assessment and Biodiversity Net Gain (BNG);
  • SLR has specialists in Natural Capital baselining and assessment[4] ;
  • SLR are a collaborative organisation working closely with partners to deliver across business supply chains and throughout project life-cycles;
  • SLR are familiar with ecological restoration work in a range of settings both in the UK and internationally, from small urban sites to large-scale projects in the highlands of Scotland.





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