Reviving Dead Stuff

9 Aug

Last week I attended the National Conference on Ecosystem Restoration (NCER 2011) in Baltimore, MD.  It was a four-and-a-half day conference, with about 700 attendees, almost all of whom gave presentations or posters.  It was packed, exhausting, and exhilarating!  It was great to meet so many people in such an amazing field: the field of bringing dead stuff back to life again.

I think there’s a lot of communicative value in the concept of ecosystem restoration, and a lot of room for political maneuvering and public support.  Storm Cunningham of REVITALIZ made this point in a workshop, and I agree with him: people love fixing dead things.  It’s so much easier to sell the idea of making some dirty, brown place green again and see that transformation than it is to rally uninterested citizens around contributing money or taxes for preservation of a place they never go to anyway.  So here’s the question: can revitalization, renewal, and restoration be tied to climate change somehow?

I think one of our best bets in this regard may be in coastal area restoration, where regaining some of the lost functions of the ecosystem will make shorelines more resilient to extreme weather, sea level rise, and saltwater intrusion into aquifers.

A design firm's vision for the restoration of the Mississippi River Gulf Outlet, or "MRGO".

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