University of Minnesota
University of Minnesota

Ecosystem Restoration: Big Questions, Few Definite Answers

We’ll jump right to the Big Questions, for example:

  • What’s the best way to proceed in making an ecosystem (riverine or otherwise) healthier, when it’s not possible to look back to an earlier, perhaps more stable, era as a model?
  • If we accept the necessity for dramatic actions to alleviate threats such as the advance of Asian Carp, or harmful/toxic algal blooms, or emerald ash borer, foes that reduce “nature” to just another collection of elements that humans manipulate for our (perceived) own benefit?
  • Can we imagine that we have the technological, policy, or regulatory “know-how” or skills to address ecosystem change at an ecosystem scale, e.g. the Everglades, or the Great Lakes, the Gulf Coast, or the Mississippi Basin?  If our answer is “no,” then what?

My head is starting to spin a little bit at the scale and scope of these ideas, but I wanted to offer a bit of a sample of the sorts of questions hovering around our sessions and discussions at the Fifth National Conference on Ecosystem Restoration.  There are over 300 of us here in a conference center outside of Chicago bouncing around from session to session, hearing case studies, reports from the field, and policy analyses from some of the most expert participants in the field.  Look for more about the conference and the issues to be in this space in the future (including another post tomorrow); these are questions that get at the heart of many of the more complicated things River Life, and our partners, are working on.

Stay tuned!

Tagged , ,

Related Posts

One Comment

  1. Ecosystem Restoration Part 2: New Dialogues Needed | River LifeAugust 2, 2013 at 10:01 am

    […] Yesterday’s post offered big, perhaps unanswerable, questions about restoration of ecosystems.  In many respects, our responses to these questions arise as much from some of our core beliefs and values, about the nature of community and responsibility, indeed, the “nature of nature” as they come from our scientific knowledge. […]

Contact Us!
Send us a note at to make suggestions for other places we should look, media to track, and stories to tell!
River Life in Video
Come Along for a Water Walk with Kare11 and River Life, and see Gifts at Work: The Mississippi River by the University of Minnesota Foundation
Open Rivers: Rethinking the Mississippi
A joint project of River Life, the Institute for Advanced Study, and the University of Minnesota Libraries, Open Rivers is an interdisciplinary online journal that recognizes the Mississippi River as a space for timely and critical conversations about people, community, water, and place.