The 10 must read resources to start right in ecological restoration

Ecological restoration in the last years has seen an explosive growth in terms of articles, books and reference materials. This is great news because the interest in the field is increasing but also it’s becoming difficult to start right with good resources that offer the right orientation. Remember that too much information can be misleading and even toxic, and someone new entering into restoration can fall prey of misleading ideas.

This is the reason I have decided to compile the 10 best resources to start right in ecological restoration.  Bear in mind also that ecological restoration is more about practical know-how, so as soon as you have read some of this resources i urge you to volunteer or work in a restoration project near your living area. It’s the best way to learn.

The resources listed are composed of three books, six articles and my number one resource: The Society for Ecological Restoration (SER)  primer on Ecological Restoration. Please start with this one.  The list is in alphabetical order.

1. Aronson, J., S.J Milton & J. Blignaut, Eds. (2007). Restoring Natural Capital: Science, Business and Practice. Island Press, Washington, D.C

This is the big picture.  Restoring natural capital  focuses on defining and maximizing the value and effort of ecological restoration for the benefit of people, thereby helping to mainstream it into daily social and economic activities. It’s the balance we must achieve. I highly recommend you to go and check the website at RNC Alliance and become a member.


2. Cabin, R.J. (2007). Science-driven restoration: A square grid on a round earth?  Restoration Ecology 15: 1-7.

Cabin’s provocative article advocates for a trial-and-error/intelligent tinkering–type approach for restoration to which i totally agree on. He is very critical of the current framework for restoration research with limited applicability in the real world. If you want to expand on Cabin’s ideas you may find useful his book Intelligent tinkering (2011).


3. Clewell, A. F. & Aronson, J. (2013). Ecological Restoration, Second Edition: Principles, Values, and Structure of an Emerging Profession.Island Press, Washington, D.C

The best book on ecological restoration.  Dr. Clewell  is actually one of those few gems that are academic and has worked in actual restoration projects for a long time.  Aronson is to me the biggest thinker in ER this days. He’s a very knowledgeable man, and i highly admire his work.


4. Bradshaw, A.D. (1996). Underlying principles of restoration. Canadian Journal of Fisheries and Aquatic Sciences 53(Suppl. 1):3–9.

Certainly one of the first articles to read. The article starts with the difference between restoration and other similar but not equal terminology like reclamation or mitigation. I specially enjoy the section on “restoration as an acid test of our understanding”.


 5. Hobbs, R.J. & D.A. Norton. (1996). Towards a Conceptual Framework for Restoration Ecology. Restoration Ecology Vol. 4. No. 2. pp. 93-110.

A very complete yet concise explanation on restoration ecology. The article is key on its emphasis on restoration at the landscape level.  It is also a reminiscence of Hobbs good work before his “novel ecosystems” craze.


6. [Spanish Resource] Lozano-Zambrano, F.H. (ed).( 2009). Herramientas de manejo para la conservación de biodiversidad en paisajes rurales. Instituto de Investigación de Recursos Biologicos Alexander von Humboldt y Corporación Autónoma Regional de Cundinamarca (CAR). Bogotá, D.C, Colombia 238 p.

Herein lies the complete procedures to a succesful ecological restoration project. Want to do a good job? Follow the steps in this book. This is also one of those scarce resources written by actual practitioners in the field, not academic talkers with no skin in the game. You can download it right away here.


 7. Murgueitio, E., Calle, Z., Uribe, F., Calle,A and Solorio B., (2011). Native trees and shrubs for the productive rehabilitation of tropical cattle ranching lands. Forest Ecology and Management 261: 1654–1663

Ecological restoration is a form of land use and not the only one. In this article they integrate forestry, sustainable cattle ranching using intensive silvopastoral systems (ISS) and restoration at the landscape level to make the best use of the land. They are actual practitioners with extensive knowledge and their work is 5 star rated. Check them out  at their organization website CIPAV


8. SER (2004). The SER International Primer on Ecological Restoration. Society for Ecological Restoration International, Science and Policy Working Group.

The number one resource to start in ecological restoration! Here are the principles of the SER to which smart practitioners of the field abide. Read this one and head straight to the field. Written by André Clewell. Download it here.


9.Vieira, D.L.M. & Scariot, A. (2006). “Principles of Natural Regeneration of Tropical Dry Forests for Restoration”, Restoration Ecology, vol. 14, no. 1, pp. 11-20

One of the most downloaded articles in the history of the Journal Restoration Ecology.  They show the right way to use science based knowledge and  available information on the ecology of natural regeneration to propose guidelines for restoration initiatives  . Use it as a template for the ecosystem you are working on.


10. Young, T.P., Petersen, D.A. & Clary, J.J. (2005). “The ecology of restoration: historical links, emerging issues and unexplored realms.” Ecology Letters 8, 662-673

Young does a superb job at describing the fundamental ecological concepts that underpin the practice of ecological restoration, such as succession. Also he distinguishes ecological restoration from restoration ecology, which are not the same thing.


So, what do you think of this selection? What i am missing here? what would you take off, and what would you add?


Leave your thoughts here