In the “Ecosystem restoration on Mainland New Zealand”
In 1993 we produced goals aimed at conservation in the Twenty first Century (Atawhai Ruamano Conservation 2000). Amongst these was the "protection of New Zealand’s indigenous biodiversity...." Within this goal conserving biodiversity was identified as primarily about ecosystem conservation. Similarly, single species management was not viewed just as recovery of the species. The aim is for restoration of the species within its ecosystem. We also identified several strategy steps. One of these was to Identify ecosystems, communities and species which should have top priority for restoration, and work with land users and local government on restoration.
These are ambitious statements. They explicitly direct a significant shift: from a static species-based view of conservation to a dynamic one that views species in the context of the "processes of migration, regeneration, nutrient cycling, energy flow, mutualism and other interactions" (Simpson 1995).
This dynamic view fits neatly into the Society for Restoration Ecology definition of restoration:
"Ecological restoration is the process of altering a site intentionally to establish a defined, indigenous, historic system. The goal of this process is to emulate the structure, functioning, diversity and dynamics of the specified system."
Are our goals achievable? Perhaps this would best be illustrated by returning to some examples of species protection and restoration on islands where such goals are already being met. The three examples I will use have been selected from about 20 island restoration projects now in progress.