What Is Environmental Restoration?

B. Miller

Environmental restoration is also known as ecological restoration and/or environmental remediation. It refers to the process of mitigating environmental damage through various means. In some cases, environmental restoration might involve returning a piece of land or region to its original state, as much as possible. In other cases, it might mean making some changes to lessen previous damage and prevent further damage in the future. One of the most common types of environmental remediation projects is the removal and cleanup of hazardous materials, which often were simply dumped somewhere or buried underground where they can leach into the soil and groundwater.

Sometimes environments, such as a river, need environmental restoration work.
Sometimes environments, such as a river, need environmental restoration work.

There are many different goals behind environmental restoration. The most basic goal is to prevent further damage to a certain area. Ideally, restoring the environment as much as possible will also provide valuable habitat for plants and wildlife that may have left the area due to previous destruction. In some cases, environmental restoration might also improve scenic value and promote ecotourism, which can be very valuable for the economy of a region. It may also increase tax values as well as real estate values, which benefits everyone in the area, not just the environment, plants, and animals.

Simple acts of environmental restoration might include things like community cleanup days, where teams of people may work to pick up garbage found along the road or in a river. Most restoration projects are more complex, however. It may involve clearing dumped garbage, planting grasses and trees to prevent erosion, or clearing an area of invasive plants. There are a number of invasive plants that, if they begin growing outside of their home range, can choke out all the native plants in a short period of time. This can significantly effect the biodiversity and species composition of an area, which can have far-reaching effects in a number of ways.

The removal of hazardous materials is another common aspect of environmental restoration. In the past, potentially hazardous materials were often just dumped in the woods or buried underground without any consideration for their potential impact. For the purposes of environmental restoration, workers will dig these materials up and then safely dispose of them with regards to the law and to preventing any further environmental damage. In some cases, the removal of hazardous materials such as asbestos or lead paint from homes, and then the proper disposal of them, can also be considered a type of environmental remediation.

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