- EPA Presentations
- Principles for Ecological Land Reuse
- Soil Science
- Soil Amendments
- Terrestrial Carbon Sequestration
- Plants and Revegetation
- Growing Gardens in Urban Soils
- Ecosystem Services
- Creating Pollinator Habitats as Part of an Ecological Revitalization Project
- Act Locally
- Organizations and Resources
- Land Revitalization Assistance
- Case Study Profiles
- Publications and Resources
New Forest Service Center for Plant Conservation
Scientists from three U.S. Forest Service research stations in the western United States recently established a collaborative group called the Western Center for Native Plant Conservation and Restoration Science. The center's mission is to address, and provide science-based solutions to, ongoing challenges in the conservation and restoration of western ecosystems, including impacts from fire, invasive species, climate change and drought, and pollinator decline. For more information, please read the news release.
Restoration of Mine Tailings Site Using Soil Amendments
The University of Arizona Superfund Research Program recently published a study on the successful stabilization and revitalization of land contaminated with mine tailings at the Humboldt Smelter Superfund site by the use of soil amendments. Adding soil amendments led to the establishment and sustained growth of native plants over four years.
Lead in Urban Soils Workshop Presentations Available Online
On September 15-16, 2015, EPA Region Hoster the Lead in Urban Soils Workshop in Philadelphia, PA. The workshop featured over 20 presentations and discussion on the issue. A summary report, PowerPoint Presentations, and archived recordings of the presentations and discussion are now available online on the CLU-IN website.
New Fact Sheet on Arsenic and Lead Bioavailability
The University of North Carolina Superfund Research Program's recently released a Fact Sheet on Arsenic and Lead Bioavailability in Soils at Superfund Sites. This fact sheet has information on these two contaminants, their effects on human health, exposure and risk assessment, and what individuals can do to reduce exposure.
Wetlands Development in an Abandoned Mine Site
A recent study by the SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry documents the natural development of wetlands populated with a diverse community of native orchids on tailings at abandoned mine site.
Press Release: Earth Day
U.S. Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewel, as part of Earth Day celebrations, announced the next phase of bridging to the Tamiami Trail, an ongoing project which provides ecological restoration benefits to Everglades National Park and the central Everglades in Florida.
Forbes Magazine Addresses Ecological Benefit of Plants
A recent article in Forbes Magazine addresses the ecological benefits of plants in an urban environment.
Land Revitalization Program Tools for Communities
EPA released the "Land Revitalization Program Tools for Communities" fact sheet on February 1, 2016. EPA's Land Revitalization Team works across EPA Regions and program offices, and in partnership with other federal agencies and the private sector to support communities in their efforts to implement sustainable redevelopment strategies. This fact sheet highlights some of the tools that have resulted from the regional community-based projects undertaken with assistance from the Land Revitalization Program. These useful tools can be adapted for use in other communities.
Why restore disturbed or contaminated lands?
Habitat preservation is key to an ecosystem's health and well-being, and there is a growing awareness that restoration is essential to recover ecosystems that have been degraded or destroyed. Furthermore, contaminated or disturbed sites that have been restored are once again available for public use and enjoyment
The public's interest in the renewal of natural ecosystems has grown steadily during the past few decades. EPA's Superfund Redevelopment Program assists communities in returning some of the nation's worst hazardous waste sites to safe and productive uses. While the Agency works to protect human health and the environment, EPA also works with communities and other partners to consider future uses for restored Superfund sites. Many sites are now being used as parkland, agricultural land, residences and commercial space.
Ecological reuse can be incorporated into site remediation plans for Superfund sites because it provides habitat for wildlife and is not considered beautification or enhancement. Returning contaminated sites to beneficial use not only allows local communities to reclaim lost land – it can also lead to increased property values, a higher tax base, and protected open space. In addition, when local interests have a stake in the revitalized property, the chances are greater for continued productive use.
Benefits of Ecological Land Reuse
- Provides wildlife habitat
- Sequesters carbon
- Remediates and beneficially reuses damaged lands
- Improves property values
- Improves image
- Reduces wind and water erosion of contaminants
- Protects water resources
- Creates green spaces and corridors
- Improves the community by removing stigma associated with prior waste sites
Why are ecosystems important to ecological land reuse?
Project managers seeking to return a contaminated site to a safe and productive use should look not only to the future of the site; but also consider its past structure and function by looking at the site as an ecosystem – a dynamic environment of living organisms and non-living matter intricately connected by energy and nutrient flows.
Many reuse projects focus solely on manipulating certain elements, such as soil, vegetation, and hydrology, with little attention paid to the links between these and the broader landscape and biosphere. Such actions may not necessarily address all of the ecosystem's needs. Other living organisms, such as insects, wildlife, and microorganisms also form an integral part of the system and must be accounted for, if possible, for the system to flourish. For example: many of the native flowering plant species in the United States rely on bees, hummingbirds or other pollinators to help them reproduce and disperse across the landscape. The flowers and the hummingbird have a symbiotic relationship that benefits them both – the flower produces nectar that the hummingbird feeds on, and the hummingbird carries pollen from one flower to the next, allowing it to reproduce. If a degraded site is repopulated with native wildflowers, but no pollinators are introduced into the site, the native plants may die out and be replaced by invasive species. In order to maintain desired levels of native plant diversity, the restoration and reuse process therefore must ensure that an adequate level of pollinator species is present.
Ecosystem-based reuse can be an important aspect of many remediation projects. If the goal is to return a site to a close approximation of its natural, pre-disturbance state, then an ecosystem-based approach is essential. This approach will ensure that the newly restored site once again becomes an integral part of its environment. More information can be found here: Climate Change and Ecosystems.