Restoration, like most other human endeavors faces a number of challenges inherent in its basic fabric. Because restoration ecology deals with complex problems it is not surprising that uncertainties are nearly everywhere: weather, sociopolitical conditions, global climate change, and the very historical uniqueness of the communities and ecosystems being restored.
Some of the more important and real challenges that interfere with the success of restorations are these: 1) that natural systems are constantly changing; 2) that humans have an imperfect understanding of natural systems; 3) the lack of available information about earlier successes and failures; 4) the fear that natural remnants will be destroyed, because people assume restoration projects can replace them; 5) that restoration is situational–there is no single restoration formula, and each project is very time-consuming; 6) that the project stakeholders often have conflicting desires; and 7) the lack of sufficient resources to support long-term projects.
Two additional, overriding restoration challenges that we will take up this year are: 8) working within the social dimensions of restoration–dealing with complications and complexities of human society; and 9) healing the impacts of human activities on the landscape.
These last two challenges will be brought to the forefront in 2013 in the Wisconsin Legislature as important pieces of environmental legislation are expected to be introduced by lawmakers. These include legislation to streamline (read: weaken and rollback) Wisconsin’s mining regulations in order to cater to the desires of the mining industry. A second piece of legislation is expected to be a bill to legalize hunting of sandhill cranes; this would be a second go round of a bill that was originally proposed in 2012. Stay tuned for details on these and other environmental legislation and regulations that could affect restoration in Wisconsin.