Cultural practices for restoring and maintaining ecosystem function
Forest restoration, in a general sense, suggests a transition from a degraded state to some "natural" condition, presumably devoid of human influence (Stanturf, this volume). Yet, because nearly all temperate and boreal forests have been influenced to varying and unknown degrees by aborigional man, as well as being subject to continually changing climate and other natural disturbances, seekins to restore an ecosystem to a single assumed pre-human condition is neither a realistic nor relevant goal. Insteal, managers must study the past disturbance history of the system, and develop a working congnitive model of the desired future condition for that ecosystem. Because a "desired condition" is, by definition an artifact of society, the desire for restoration will often simply reflect a shift in societal land-use preferences. In other cases, restoration efforts will focus on forest ecosystems that have been altered or degraded by urbanization, agriculture, or silvicultural practices.