Restoring Ecological Health to Your Land

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Restoring Ecological Health to Your Land is the first practical guidebook to give restorationists and would-be restorationists with little or no scientific training or background the “how to” information and knowledge they need to plan and implement ecological restoration activities. The book sets forth a step-by-step process for developing, implementing, monitoring, and refining on-the-ground restoration projects that is applicable to a wide range of landscapes and ecosystems.
The first part of the book introduces the process of ecological restoration in simple, easily understood language through specific examples drawn from the authors’ experience restoring their own lands in southern and central Wisconsin. It offers systematic, step-by-step strategies along with inspiration and benchmark experiences. The book’s second half shows how that same “thinking” and “doing” can be applied to North America’s major ecosystems and landscapes in any condition or scale.
No other ecological restoration book leads by example and first-hand experience likethis one. The authors encourage readers to champion restoration of ecosystems close to where they live . . . at home, on farms and ranches, in parks and preserves. It provides an essential bridge for people from all walks of life and all levels of experience—from land trust member property stewards to agency personnel responsible for restoring lands in their care—and represents a unique and important contribution to the literature on restoration.
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Editorial Reviews

Landscape Architecture

“Landscape architects, who increasingly get a significant percentage of business from restoration, will find this thorough, replicable process valuable, whatever their experience level. Professionals will benefit from the authors' insistence on monitoring measurable results: Too many of our ecological and sustainable projects never receive this validation, even from LEED and its offspring.”

Conservation Biology

"Steven Apfelbaum and Alan Haney are both seasoned restoration practitioners from Wisconsin, a heartland of North American restoration practice and science. They write about restoring land on small, private holdings. The authors provide step-by-step guidance on executing and monitoring the restoration of grasslands, forests, wetlands, riparian areas, and even desert areas. It is a well-written, well-produced, and authoritative book, which I recommend wholeheartedly for readers with no appetite to tackle the specialized literature, but who have restoration projects in mind, at heart, or underway, especially on their own land."
Biological Conservation

"Overall, I would think that this book is a useful primer for undergraduates studying ecological restoration or restoration ecology. The first part is generic and could be used anywhere in the world; the latter half is heavily focused on North America. It is very well written, and it is clear that the authors have lived and breathed the subject. Anyone involved in teaching this subject should have a copy for inspiration and ideas."
Bulletin of the British Ecological Society

"A useful volume, modesty priced by a non-profit making publisher."
Nina Leopold Bradley

"This manual celebrates human connectedness to the natural world. By putting the sciences and the arts together to restore land and bring it back to health, Steve and Alan guide us to manage the land and then to understand and love the land."
Director of Conservation Science, Indiana Office of The Nature Conservancy - John Shuey

"Infused with land ethic and solid ecology, this volume spells out a compelling process for restoration, from initial concept to planning, implementation, and long-term management. Everyone interested in the practice of restoration, professionals included, will appreciate the holistic vision of restoration and its societal role espoused in this book-length essay."
Managing Director, The Lyme Timber Company - Peter R. Stein

"Restoring Ecological Health to Your Land provides critical insights into the real work of healing ecological functions of degraded landscapes. The authors are visionary practitioners who have amassed a wealth of hands-on experiences validated by long-term ecological monitoring. This book will assist private land owners, public land managers, and land conservancy stewards to design and execute restoration activities yielding ecologically significant results."
President Emeritus, Society for Ecological Restoration International - Andre Clewell

"This down-to-earth book gives land owners the confidence and courage to initiate their own ecological restoration programs. The reader should be warned that Restoring Ecological Health to Your Land could easily inspire you to embark on a lifelong, learn-as-you-go adventure on your own land that's guaranteed to keep your brow sweaty, your knuckles dirty, and your spirit soaring."
Ecological Management & Restoration

"...the wealth of information in this workbook makes it a valuable resource even for experienced restoration ecologists."
Ecological Restoration

"...even individuals who have been conducting restoration projects for years may appreciate the structure and rigor outlined in the Workbook. For the less experienced restorationist, Restoring Ecological Health may provide just the motivation needed to get started, and the Workbook presents a recipe that, followed carefully, is virtually guaranteed to succeed."

"Restoring Ecological Health to Your Land offers a practical, nontechnical guide to ecological restoration of damaged lands—a field that barely existed 30 years ago when coauthor Steven I. Apfelbaum bought 80 run-down acres in southern Wisconsin. Apfelbaum (of Applied Ecological Services) and Alan Haney (fomerly of the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point) explain how their 10-step process was applied to the Wisconsin property and show how it could apply to grassland, forest, wetland, stream, and desert ecosystems as well...Any nonbiologist charged with dealing with land will benefit from this book."
Landscape Architecture Magazine

"Landscape architects, who increasingly get a significant percentage of business from restoration, will find this thorough, replicable process valuable, whatever their experience level. Professionals will benefit from the authors' insistence on monitoring measurable results: Too many of our ecological and sustainable projects never receive this validation, even from LEED and its offspring."
Midwest Book Review

"Ecological recovery are what many places need to recover their natural beauty. Restoring Ecological Health to Your Land is a guide to restoring ecological areas where urbanization has caused environmental decay. With chapters discussing many types of areas from plains to forests, and step by step plans to tracking progress, Restoring Ecological Health to Your Land proves to be a powerful reference and guide, highly recommended to any in charge of overseeing such projects for its comprehensive collection of tips and advice."
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Product Details

Meet the Author

Steven I. Apfelbaum is chairman of Applied Ecological Services Inc., a company he founded in 1975. He has worked on design, construction, management, monitoring, and research of ecosystems and has taught ecosystem restoration to land trusts, conservation organizations, and families interested in restoring their property.


Alan Haney is a forest ecologist and emeritus professor of forestry and former dean of the College of Natural Resources, University of Wisconsin–Stevens Point. His research and teaching focus on ecosystem structure and function, including restoration ecology.

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Table of Contents

PART I. Principles of Ecological Restoration
Chapter 1. Connecting with the Land: The Story of Stone Prairie Farm
-Exploring the Landscape
-Developing a Plan
-Getting Started
-Scaling Up
-Learning to Work with Nature
-Principles Learned from the Stone Prairie Experience
-Learning by Doing
-The Necessity of Stewardship
-Joy of Success
Chapter 2. Ecological Restoration: An Overview
   Assessing the Health of Ecosystems
   Indicators of Healthy Ecosystems
   Special Importance of Diversity
-Ten-Step Process for Ecological Restoration
   Step One: Mapping and Inventory
   Step Two: Investigate the History of the Landscape
   Step Three: Interpretation of Landscape Changes
   Step Four: Develop Realistic Goals and Objectives
   Step Five: Prepare a Plan
   Step Six: Develop and Initiate a Monitoring Program
   Step Seven: Implement the Plan
   Step Eight: Document Changes and Maintain Records
   Step Nine: Periodically Reevaluate the Program
   Step Ten: Communicate and Educate
Chapter 3. Developing a Restoration Plan
-The Restoration Process
   Step One: Inventory and Mapping
   Step Two: Investigate the History of the Landscape
   Step Three: Interpretation of Landscape Changes
   Step Four: Develop Realistic Goals and Objectives
   Step Five: Prepare a Plan
   Step Six: Develop and Initiate a Monitoring Program
   Step Seven: Implement the Plan
   Step Eight. Document Changes and Maintain Records
Chapter 4. Implementing Restoration
-Working at the Right Scale
-Where to Start
-Working With and Not Against Nature
-Recruiting Volunteers and Hiring Professional Help
-Restoration Success and Nature's Clock
   Availability vs. Phenology
   Reading Phenology: What to Look For
   Knowing When It Is Too Late
   Throwing Everything at the Land?
   Patience, Persistence, and Long-term Perspectives
-Commonly Employed Techniques
   Chemical Challenges
   Biological Techniques
   Site Preparation
   Seeding and Planting
   Control of Woody Vegetation
   Use of Fire
-A Management Program
Chapter 5. Monitoring Progress
-Affirming Measurable Objectives
-Basic Monitoring Techniques
   Light Quality and Quantity
   Plant Community and Vegetation
   Faunal Monitoring
-Other Benefits of Monitoring
-Is There Ever an Endpoint?
PART II. Applying Restoration to Different Types of Ecosystems
Chapter 6. Grassland Restoration
-Historic Grasslands in North America
-Grassland Fauna
-Market and Policy Changes
-Restoration Practices
   Mixed-grass and Short-grass Prairie Restoration
   Tallgrass Prairie Restoration
   Choice of Species
   Caring for New Prairie
   Prescribed Fire
   Control of Woody Invasives
Chapter 7. Restoring Forest Ecosystems
-The Challenge of Restoring Forested Ecosystems
-Applying the Principles of Restoration
   Examples Across North America
   Longleaf-slash Pine Forests
   Bottomland Hardwood Forests
   Oak-pine and Loblolly-short-leaf Pine Forests
   Oak-hickory Forests and Northern Hardwood Forests
   Boreal Forests
   Pacific Evergreen Forests
Chapter 8. Wetland Restoration
-Wetland Form and Function
-Planning Wetland Restoration
-Regulations and Legal Definitions
-Different Types of Wetlands
-Water Quality
   Classification of Wetlands
-Physical Gradients and Biological Change
-Restorations Strategies and Process
Chapter 9. Restoring Streams
-Underlying Problems
-Some Principles
-The Process of Stream Restoration
Chapter 10. Restoring Deserts
-What Is a Desert
-Unique Biological Adaptations
-Stressors and Impacts
-Restorations Strategies
Species List
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