‘Degraded’, or is it just different?

One of the world’s leading restoration ecologists has questioned the way we use the term ‘degraded’. According to CEED Chief Investigator Professor Richard Hobbs this is far more than simple semantics. How we assess whether a system is degraded has major implications for whether restoration is required.

In a paper just published in Restoration Ecology, Richard Hobbs examines the perceptions and values that are associated with term ‘degraded’ and how this affects the decisions we make on whether intervention is appropriate.

“An underlying premise of ecological restoration is that it focuses on the recovery of degraded systems,” says Richard Hobbs, Director of the Ecosystem Restoration and Intervention Ecology (ERIE) Centre at the University of Western Australia. “While this is an apparently straightforward aim, there is in fact considerable variation in how the term ‘degraded’ is defined, used and assessed.”

Hobbs points out that there is a notable subjective component to decisions regarding what is degraded and what isn’t, and this often relates to the values and goals being considered.


Hobbs RJ (2016). Degraded or just different? Perceptions and value judgements in restoration decisions. Restoration Ecology 24: 153-158. doi: 10.1111/rec.12336 http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/rec.12336/abstract

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