Shifting Baseline Syndrome in Restoration Ecology
Written by, Daniel Griffith
The Shifting Baseline Syndrome occurs when the foundational tenents of natural process change either due to unnatural human impact or poor scientific standards.
In this article, Wildland Ecologist Frans Vera argues the importance of definitions and true observation. Vera warns, “If restoration ecology aims to restore natural conditions or natural processes, this syndrome will result in an erroneous starting point for restoration projects, such as a state of degredation of nature.”
The key here for consideration is: for temperate climate and deciduous forests, is closed-canopy or woody-pasture the truly natural system? Vera argues for us moderns to re-examine historical texts to find that the dominant species of trees in this ecoregion require high amounts of sunlight to grow (something missing in closed-canopy forests) and the impactful role of large herbivors.