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Invasive Organisms & Restoring Natural Capital

J. Aronson, S.J. Milton & J. Blignaut 2007 Restoring Natural Capital ; science, business, and practice.
Island Press 978-1-59726-077-0

“Restoring Natural Capital”, is the latest book in the “Ecological Restoration” series of the Society for Ecological Restoration International. Of the 35 chapters, 14 include South African authors, two of whom (Sue Milton and David Richardson) are C·I·B core team members.


The Millennium Assessment makes it clear that natural capital of all kinds is being eroded and lost through land degradation, pollution and over-exploitation. Replacement of nature's goods and services (such as timber, grazing, water purification, nutrient cycling, flood control, genetic diversity and scenery), with artificial equivalents will be prohibitively expensive and in many cases impossible. Natural resources, rather than technology, are becoming the most limiting factor in achieving an acceptable quality of life for all people on earth.


The thesis of this book is that restoration should be part of any proposed development and that valuation of natural capital should be mainstreamed into development planning. Collaboration of ecologists and economists is essential for valuation of natural resources in such a way that restoration can be seen as providing a cost-effective and essential service to society.




Among the case studies that demonstrate the value of restoring natural capital in South Africa are those dealing with the clearing of invasive alien plants in South Africa. Woody invaders in rivers and mountain catchments have such negative effects on water yield, biodiversity conservation and tourism opportunities, that the massive national “Working for Water Programme” can be viewed as cost effective.


The control of invasive alien organisms as part of a strategy for restoring natural capital is not restricted to South Africa. This theme recurs in many chapters of the book, including case studies from Hawaii, India, New Zealand, Scotland and the USA, confirming the relevance of invasion biology for sustainable development.


For further details about the book or to order a copy, click HERE.