SER Environmental Policies

Posted August 2012

For more information on policies, guidelines and definitions—or if you are interested in more information about SER’s Science & Policy Working Group, please contact Jim Harris, Chair.  Click here to download as a PDF file.


Policies 1 through 9 were published in Restoration Ecology1(3): 206-207, 1993.


  1. Protection of Ecosystems

  2. Restitution

  3. Adoption of Ecological Restoration

  4. Ecosystem Management

  5. Landscape Integration

  6. Culture and Sustainability

  7. Biodiversity' and Endangered Species

  8. Strategic Environmental Values of Restoration

  9. Global Reforestation Projects



1.  Protection of Ecosystems

The Society for Ecological Restoration advocates the protection of ecosystems that are pristine or that otherwise exhibit characteristic diversity and functional attributes. Protection should also be extended to such ecosystems that have recently suffered storms, fires, or other catastrophic natural events that may occasionally affect them. The Society further advocates protection for degraded ecosystems, if:

(1)   they are among the last remnants of a type threat­ened by regional extirpation 

(2)   they contain mature specimens of characteristic species whose generation time spans many decades, or

(3)    their removal would cause the fragmentation of a continuous natural area


2.  Restitution

The Society for Ecological Restoration will not sanction the destruction of any ecosystem of the pretext that it may be restored. To the contrary, for any ecosystem that is willfully destroyed, the Society advocates restitution that recoups environmental val­ues equivalent to those lost by the destruction of that ecosystem and in addition provides other environmen­tal reparations in order to realize a net environmental improvement to the regional landscape.


3.  Adoption of Ecological Restoration 

Ecological restora­tion is increasingly becoming an integral element in resource management and should be adopted gener­ally as an essential practice by public agencies, non­governmental organizations, institutions, corpora­tions, individuals, or other entities that own, control, or manage resources.


4.  Ecosystem Management

The Society for Ecological Restoration advocates the ecologically sensitive man­agement of ecosystems and landscapes, including re­stored systems. Such management should be designed to sustain these natural areas in perpetuity. The Soci­ety acknowledges that ecosystems are dynamic and may evolve in response to natural catastrophic events and also to gradual changes in environmental condi­tions. Such eventualities should be accommodated in management plans.


5.  Landscape Integration

The Society for Ecological Res­toration advocates the integration of restoration pro­jects into regional landscapes, so as to maximize the effectiveness of restoration efforts. To that end, ecolog­ical restoration projects should contribute as much as possible to the establishment of greenbelts, buffers, wildlife corridors, biosphere reserves, and similar con­servation lands.


6.  Culture and Sustainability

The Society for Ecological Restoration recognizes that ecosystems, including re­stored ecosystems, are inseparable from human cul­ture and economy. Resource usage of restored systems should be compatible with the principle of sustainabil­ity and should not cause environmental degradation.


7.  Biodiversity' and Endangered Species

The Society for Ecological Restoration advocates programs for preserv­ing biodiversity and endangered species. The Society contends that the preservation of biodiversity and pro­tection of endangered species cannot be sustained sat­isfactorily apart from viable ecosystems. Therefore, the Society advises resource planners charged with pre­serving biodiversity and protecting endangered spe­cies to emphasize the restoration and maintenance of ecosystems and those key species upon which all other species in an ecosystem depend.


8.  Strategic Environmental Values of Restoration 

The Soci­ety for Ecological Restoration recognizes that the resto­ration and management of historical ecosystems con­tribute towards the solution of strategic environmental needs, including but not limited to the following:

(a)    retention of precipitation in order to maintain the integrity of the hydrologic cycle;

(b)   diversification of habitat, which augments the di­versity of both predator and prey species and can thereby enhance the biological control of pest or­ganisms 

(c)    stabilization of substrates, which prevents erosion and promotes the formation of topsoil;

(d)   augmentation of habitat, which harbors the ge­ netic diversity required for future adaptability, in­cluding improvements in economic species;

(e)    retention and enhancement of biodiversity;

(f)     preservation of land-based cultural traditions for indigenous peoples, including traditional indige­nous environmental knowledge;

(g) storage of carbon and thus the removal of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere.


9.  Global Reforestation Projects 

The Society for Ecologi­cal Restoration approves in principle of those projects by organizations and governments that contribute to global reforestation, with the following caveats:

  1. that lands selected for reforestation are those that had been previously forested  within historical times; and,
  2.  that trees of indigenous species are planted, except where clearly enunciated goals require the planting of non-indigenous trees, such as in agro­forestry reserves.

The Society advises the establish­ment of multispecific stands of trees rather than single­species tree plantations and also the concomitant establishment of indigenous forest undergrowth, rep­resenting the vegetational strata typically associated with regional forests.