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Individual Highlight

Shared Principles of Ecological Restoration

Photo of An oak savannah in McHenry county. USDA Forest ServiceAn oak savannah in McHenry county. USDA Forest ServiceSnapshot : Restoration is growing in application, and Forest Service scientists found a set of guiding principles in effect throughout the Chicago Wilderness region. These principles reflect not only a shared philosophy and technique, but also serve as a system of collective action to benefit the larger landscape and the people who live within it.

Principal Investigators(s) :
Westphal, Lynne M. 
Research Location : Chicago metro area
Research Station : Northern Research Station (NRS)
Year : 2015
Highlight ID : 869


Restoration of forests, prairies, and other ecosystems is important for many reasons. Forest Service scientists and research partners examined how oak woodlands in the Chicago Wilderness region were restored. (Chicago Wilderness is an alliance of organizations that share a goal of sustaining and enhancing biodiversity throughout the broad Chicago metro region). The research team’s analysis of the rules, norms, and strategies found in practice highlighted a set of philosophical, yet practical, principles to guide the practice of ecological restoration. Avoiding harm, listening to the land, practicing follow-up actions, and taking a qualitative approach to actions and outcomes characterize these organizations’ restoration approaches. Importantly, all organizations are also guided by basic principles of social collaboration, both internally and externally. Because all organizations, regardless of management style, expressed these principles, they can be seen as a regional system of collective action that is beneficial for the larger good. In the metropolitan region of Chicago Wilderness, this shared understanding represents a strength of the alliance and can be a model for other conservation efforts.

Forest Service Partners

External Partners

  • Paul H. Gobster
  • Alaka Wali, The Field Museum, Chicago, Illinois
  • Cristy Watkins, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, Michigan
  • Joanne Vining, University of Illinois, Urbana, Illinois
  • Madeleine Tudor, The Field Museum, Chicago, Illinois.