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Forest Ontario: Ecosystem Restoration Study Guide

Ecosystem Restoration


This resource was submitted by the Climate Risk Institute for theCanAdapt Climate Change Adaptation Community of Practice.

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An ecosystem is a biological community of interacting organisms and their physical environment. Ecosystems have historically been degraded, damaged, or otherwise destroyed due to human disturbances that alter their structure or function. These damaged ecosystems that were once home to a host of plants and animals face increased stress from diminished, suboptimal habitats and have led many once-thriving species to be deemed at-risk.

Ecosystem restoration is the process of recreating, initiating, or accelerating the recovery of an ecosystem that has been disturbed, or otherwise changing the course of its recovery. This can include restoring the soils on a site, removing invasive or otherwise weedy vegetation and replacing it with more beneficial plants, and so on.

As there are a variety of ecosystems and disturbances found and occurring in Ontario, let alone Canada, there is no one-size-fits-all plan that works for all of them. Long-term studies and innovation are key steps in any restoration initiative and can be facilitated by various government and non-government organizations. Private landowners, both personal and corporate, can also be amazing and very necessary partners for restoration projects.

Ecosystem restoration occurs at the organism level but requires effort from municipal, provincial, and national governments. These efforts are at the forefront of the United Nations Decade on Ecosystem Restoration. This global effort began in 2021 and will run through to 2030 as a broad, global movement that aims to bring awareness and political momentum to ecosystem restoration, allowing restoration projects to gain the funding, partnerships, knowledge, and project resources to restore vital ecosystems.

In this study guide, students will be introduced to ecosystem restoration, the impacts made on different types of ecosystems, how different ecosystems can be restored, and who some of the key players are in restoring Ontario’s ecosystems. This guide explores terrestrial, aquatic, soil, and wildlife restoration and discusses restoration efforts, action plans and case studies, as well as the organizations that have brought these restoration efforts to life.