Unit 1: Introduction to the course

Introduction to Unit 1

How often have you heard in the past five years the expression “I have never seen a ….fire/flood/drought/rainstorm/insect infestation/sea level rise…of this magnitude, ever.”? The world’s climate is out of balance, and in this state, is driving ecosystem changes that few of us have seen in our lifetimes.  What is the scale of these changes now and into the future?  How can we adapt or adjust?

The practice of ecological restoration can point the way to positive actions at the ground level that can ameliorate some of these ecosystem changes and provide a means for professionals to be involved.  The United Nations General Assembly has proclaimed 2021–2030 as the Decade on Ecosystem Restoration, following a proposal for action by over 70 countries from all latitudes. The UN Decade positions the restoration of ecosystems as a major nature-based solution towards meeting a wide range of global development goals and national priorities.

This course will bring into focus the practice of restoration of ecosystems at the local, regional level in British Columbia.  First, First Nations’ perspectives on how the local ecosystems are changing will set the stage.  The theory and practice of ecological restoration will be explored, and how ecological restoration can be used to begin the process of recovery for naturally or humanly disturbed ecosystems.  This will be followed by a discussion of the basic drivers of change in ecosystems – concepts such as climate change, nitrogen deposition, the arrival of invasive species, and human impacts of land conversion.  The complexity of biodiverse ecosystems in British Columbia will highlight the challenge of dealing with these issues.  Climate change models in BC will focus on what the future scale of change might be for the atmosphere, the hydrosphere, the lithosphere, the biosphere and the sociosphere – humans.  Historic, hybrid and novel ecosystems will be examined to understand the range of ecosystems types that might be addressed by ecological restoration.

Finally, interviews with professionals working in land use planning, climate change, landscape architecture and ethnobotany will show how ecological restoration is being used in these fields.  The importance of integrating the natural environment into professional practices will assist course participants in their own work.

Participants will take away an understanding of the First Nations role in ecological restoration, of ecosystem functioning, of ecosystem changes being experienced, and of practices of cultural and ecological restoration that can produce a positive impact in their fields of discipline.


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Ecosystems for the Future Copyright © by Division of Continuing Studies, University of Victoria is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

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