The Society for Ecological Restoration (SER) and the Kuwait Institute for Scientific Research (KISR), in conjunction with Wiley Publishing, today are excited to release the first issue of Restoration Ecology - Arid Lands (RE-AL). This new thematic series will focus on the restoration of drylands, including arid and semi-arid areas, one of the most challenging ecosystems in the restoration arena. Just a week ahead of the UN World Day to Combat Desertification and Drought (June 17, 2020), the first issue of RE-AL addresses the urgent need to better disseminate and apply research breakthroughs, innovative technologies, and best practices to restoration ecology as a discipline and to the issues and challenges in large-scale restoration of arid land ecosystems.
Restoring degraded arid lands is essential to mitigate climate change, reverse desertification, and secure the livelihoods for the 2 billion people who live in these areas. "The world's arid lands cover 40% of the global land area and they make up a significant yet fragile ecological system that supports a third of the world's population," said Dr. Kingsley Dixon, John Curtin Distinguished Professor and Director of the ARC Centre for Mine Site Restoration at Curtin University in Perth, Australia. "This first thematic series of Restoration Ecology is dedicated to ecological restoration of arid lands, providing a critical focus for all practitioners and communities engaged in restoring the natural capital of these economically and socially important ecosystems."
Meeting the urgent need for restoration in arid lands requires increasing access to information on current science and best practices for practitioners in these ecosystems. The first issue of RE-AL shares diverse and inspiring voices from around the world focused on all aspects of restoration in arid environments. "Although it is too early to know the impact of coronavirus pandemic on biodiversity, it is expected that research and ecological restoration activities will be disrupted, especially in arid regions with limited capacity, and may not resume soon, " said Dr. Samira A.S. Omar, Director General of KISR. "Concerted efforts are needed to respond to the changed circumstances and transfer knowledge on innovative technologies for restoration of arid land ecosystems in the post COVID19 pandemic period. This dedicated thematic series will enable us to do just that, including, during this crisis, reminding people of the links between functional, resilient ecosystems and human well-being."
These areas pose unique restoration challenges due to limited water availability, an issue that will be exacerbated by climate change. "Rapid population growth and the effects of climate change are projected to increase water stress in these expanding arid and semi-arid regions, which already experience high levels of poverty, food insecurity, transboundary conflict and forced migration" said Dr. Barron Orr, Lead Scientists for the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification. He continued, "The new thematic series RE-AL is timely and will be a much-needed contribution to the scientific literature. It will be relevant for policy development and will lead to advances in approaches taken by natural resource manager working on the ground to reverse land degradation in drylands."
SER plans to use RE-AL to help expand the global community of practice surrounding ecological restoration in arid lands through print, virtual, and in person knowledge sharing. "The establishment of RE-AL is very timely and relevant as it helps connect and support scientists, practitioners, and partners within Africa and across other dryland regions to share knowledge, experience, expertise and lessons learnt and achieve restoration countries commitments under the UN Decade on Ecosystem Restoration," said Nora Berrahmouni, FAO's Senior Forestry Officer in Africa.
The first issue includes articles about arid land restoration in Argentina, China, Australia, and the United States. Research focuses on a range of topics including restoration interventions, tree survival, soil amendments, arid grassland bee communities, and soil reconstruction after mining. All articles include practical information to facilitate their applied use to restoration projects, and the full list of articles can be found here.
SER and KISR have entered into a five-year partnership to develop RE-AL, with the expectation of publishing up to two issues per year for the next four years. All articles will go through the same rigorous scientific review process already in place for Restoration Ecology. Those wishing to discuss ideas or submit manuscripts should contact the Editor-in-Chief, Stephen Murphy ([email protected]).