Ecosystem restoration

Given the current speed of habitat and species loss caused by human development, the restoration of degraded ecosystem is one of the greatest challenges humankind is facing. For this reason, the United Nations declared 2021-2030 as the UN Decade of Ecosystem Restoration. This global effort will need from experts on ecosystem science, management and design to have a deep understanding of how ecosystems recover from human disturbance and how we can use this knowledge to increase the currently limited performance of restoration practice. This course is particularly suited for students with interests in nature conservation, the natural component of landscape architecture, or ecosystem management in a broad sense. In this course, we will create a multidirectional learning environment where we all will learn from the others to address real world restoration cases in all kinds of habitats, from forests to marine ecosystems. Students will have a particular real case assignment where the student will dig to the deepest possible level to increase biodiversity and ecosystem functionality through an understanding of the complexity that structures ecosystems. We will have key inputs from guest lectures coming from restoration companies with many years of experience restoring ecosystems worldwide. They will help us find targeted tools to support and design ecosystems both in urban and natural environments. We will increase our understanding of what nature is for humans and the Earth system and will increase our connection to it through field trips. In the fields trip, we will explore ecosystem complexity in New England’s recovering forests (like the Harvard Forest) and discuss with mangers the keys for restoration success and failure on the ground. Evaluations will be made through a combination of assignments, essays, and discussion participation. Basic previous knowledge on ecology is required. This course will arm students with one of the most important tools to work with and for nature in the coming decades.