What is Ecosystem Recovery and How Should we Measure it in Our Parks?
Bazely, Dawn R.
Firanski, J. Carrie
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Southwestern Ontario, or the Carolinian ecozone, is the most heavily populated region of Canada. Natural habitat cover is as low as 5% in some counties. Furthermore, human-induced disturbance has been great in many of the remaining natural habitats, including Rondeau and Pinery Provincial Parks and Point Pelee National Park. Consequently, managers have recognized the need for active habitat restoration. How do managers know that their restoration efforts have lead to ecosystem recovery and that conservation targets are being met? This question presupposes that ecosystem response to management can be easily quantified. Lessons learned from 12 years of research into forest and savanna responses to management for high white-tailed deer populations and prescribed burning in these parks will be used to address this question. Our three main conclusions are: 1) "one size does not fit all" when it comes to assessing different management regimes, 2) " a multi-scale approach is essential" - without one, important habitat changes will likely be missed; and, 3) "change is slow" - these habitats usually respond over decades.
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