Implementing the actual restoration project is the “acid” test, the moment where theory meets reality, the environment where ideas and dreams encounter sweat and adaptation.
At the Ecological Restoration Institute, we view each site, each stand, each forest, each landscape as unique and requiring its own variation on a common theme, namely, restoration treatments (usually thinning followed by burning) designed to return historic/natural processes, and, ultimately, forest structure, density, and composition to the over stocked, fire-prone forests of the American Southwest.
In this section, we provide information about why the ERI recommends using reference conditions (particularly existing historic evidence such as stumps, old trees and logs) combined with ongoing ecological studies (tree dating, fire scars) to establish general guidelines for restoration treatments. There is also a page that describes three treatment types: full restoration, modified restoration, and minimal restoration. We also provide information about why thinning alone (i.e., fuel reduction treatments) is not restoration because it alters structure and density, but fails to address the issue of returning historic/natural processes to the ecosystem.
The recommended methods presented here have had considerable success in applications throughout the Southwest, but they remain subject to ongoing experimentation and adjustment.