“Recovery of wetlands following restoration, as currently practiced, is often slow and incomplete.”, is the conclusion of David Moreno-Mateos and colleagues in a meta-analysis of wetland restorations, published in PLoS Biology on January 24, 2012. The analysis looked at 621 wetland restoration sites world-wide. Also see this popular news article from UC Berkeley, where David Moreno-Mateos is a postdoctoral fellow.
The authors also state: “Ecological restoration to recover critical ecosystem services has been widely attempted, but the degree of actual recovery of ecosystem functioning and structure from these efforts remains uncertain.” According to the study, even a century after some wetland restoration efforts, the composition and structure of restored wetland plant assemblages, paled in comparison to those of nearby reference sites.
These findings should serve as a cautionary note to those who view wetland restoration as as a mitigation strategy and a rationale for further wetland degradation, and loss. A discussion of the factors contributing to the complexity, difficulty, and uncertainty of restoration in general, and wetland restoration, in particular, is found in another PLoS Biology article entitled “Restoration of Ailing Wetlands”, by Oswald J. Schmitz.