"Ecological vs. Political Time Scales for Expected Outcomes to Restoration" Foundation meeting
This is a closed meeting for a funded synthesis group of visiting scholars.
The time scales over which ecological systems respond to signals from their environments (both human and nonhuman) are subject to physical and biological constraints—species populations can only grow so fast; coral larvae can only re-colonize devastated reefs with limited speed; rivers release nutrients stored in sediments over decades, if not millennia. Humans often take action, and expect a response, over much shorter time scales—a few months to a few decades, at most. Even when a damaging human activity can be stopped entirely (e.g., halting fishing in an depressed stock), it may take longer than a human lifespan to restore the ecosystem to levels where an economic harvest can be resumed. These mismatches of human and ecological timescales affect many of the most vexing problems in environmental management, including interventions to reverse global warming and to restore polluted water bodies.
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