U.S. EPA Contaminated Site Cleanup Information (CLU-IN)


U.S. Environmental Protection Agency
U.S. EPA Technology Innovation and Field Services Division

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Glossary of Ecological Land Reuse Terms
Biodiversity
The variety and variability among living organisms and the ecological complexes in which they occur. Diversity can be defined as the number of different items and their relative frequencies. For biological diversity, these items are organized at many levels, ranging from complete ecosystems to the biochemical structures that are the molecular basis of heredity. Thus, the term encompasses ecosystems, species, and genes.
Compost
A humus or soil-like material created from aerobic, microbial decomposition of organic materials such as food scraps, yard trimmings, and manure. When mature, it is frequently used as a soil amendment because it is rich in nutrients, stable, and safe to use near water sources.
Composting
The biological decomposition process that creates compost. It is frequently used to significantly reduce pathogens in organic waste streams, since the process generates temperatures hot enough to achieve this reduction.
Contaminated Site
Location where microorganisms, chemicals, toxic substances, wastes, or wastewater have been introduced into the water, air, and/or soil in a concentration that makes the site unfit for its intended use.
Creation
The installation of a different kind of ecosystem from that which occurred historically.
[Society for Ecological Restoration International Science & Policy Working Group, 2004.The SER International Primer on Ecological Restoration. www.ser.org & Tucson: Society for Ecological Restoration International.]
Damage
Acute and obvious changes in an ecosystem
[Society for Ecological Restoration International Science & Policy Working Group, 2004.The SER International Primer on Ecological Restoration. www.ser.org & Tucson: Society for Ecological Restoration International.]
Degradation
Subtle or gradual changes that reduce ecological integrity and health.
[Society for Ecological Restoration International Science & Policy Working Group, 2004.The SER International Primer on Ecological Restoration. www.ser.org & Tucson: Society for Ecological Restoration International.]
Ecological Restoration
An intentional activity that initiates or accelerates the recovery of an ecosystem with respect to its health, integrity and sustainability.
[Society for Ecological Restoration International Science & Policy Working Group, 2004.The SER International Primer on Ecological Restoration. www.ser.org & Tucson: Society for Ecological Restoration International.]
Ecological Revitalization
For a contaminated site, such as a Superfund site, it is the process of returning the site to a functioning and sustainable use. Ecological revitalization re-establishes a site to a natural state, thus increasing or improving habitat for plants and animals without impairing the remediation activities that ensure the protection of human health and the environment.
U.S. EPA, 2007. Frequently Asked Questions about Ecological Revitalization of Superfund sites. http://www.clu-in.org/download/remed/542f06002.pdf
Ecosystem
The interacting system of a biological community and its non-living environmental surroundings.
Ecosystem Health
The state or condition of an ecosystem in which its dynamic attributes are expressed within "normal" ranges of activity relative to its ecological stage of development.
[Society for Ecological Restoration International Science & Policy Working Group, 2004.The SER International Primer on Ecological Restoration. www.ser.org & Tucson: Society for Ecological Restoration International.]
Exotic Species
A species that is not indigenous to a region.
Invasive Species
An [exotic] species whose introduction does or is likely to cause economic or environmental harm or harm to human health.
[Clinton, W.J. 1999 Feb 3. Invasive Species. Executive Order 13112. http://www.archives.gov/federal-register/executive-orders/ ]
Mitigation
Measures taken to reduce adverse impacts on the environment.
Native Plant
A plant that occurs naturally in a particular region, ecosystem, and/or habitat without direct or indirect human actions.
[1994 Memorandum of Understanding that established the Federal Native Plant Conservation Committee (from The Roadside Use of Native Plants).]
Reclamation
An ecological restoration activity where the main objectives include the stabilization of the terrain, assurance of public safety, aesthetic improvement, and usually a return of the land to what, within the regional context, is considered to be a useful purpose.
[Society for Ecological Restoration International Science & Policy Working Group, 2004.The SER International Primer on Ecological Restoration. www.ser.org & Tucson: Society for Ecological Restoration International.]
Recovery
When an ecosystem contains sufficient biotic and abiotic resources to continue its development without further assistance or subsidy.
[Society for Ecological Restoration International Science & Policy Working Group, 2004.The SER International Primer on Ecological Restoration. www.ser.org & Tucson: Society for Ecological Restoration International.]
Reference Ecosystem
A model for planning an ecological restoration project, which later serves in the evaluation of that project.
[Society for Ecological Restoration International Science & Policy Working Group, 2004.The SER International Primer on Ecological Restoration. www.ser.org & Tucson: Society for Ecological Restoration International.]
Replacement
Replacement of an ecosystem that was entirely destroyed with one of the same kind. Common on surface-mined lands and brownfields.
[Society for Ecological Restoration International Science & Policy Working Group, 2004.The SER International Primer on Ecological Restoration. www.ser.org & Tucson: Society for Ecological Restoration International.]
Restoration Ecology
The science upon which the practice of ecological restoration is based.
[Society for Ecological Restoration International Science & Policy Working Group, 2004.The SER International Primer on Ecological Restoration. www.ser.org & Tucson: Society for Ecological Restoration International.]
Revegetation
The process of establishing plants in areas devoid of vegetation.
Soil Amendments
Residual materials, composted agricultural byproducts, and traditional agricultural fertilizers That, when added to soils, can promote positive changes in chemical, physical and biological properties of the disturbed media.
[U.S. EPA, 2007. Soil Remediation, Revitalization, and Reuse: Technical Performance Measures (TPMs). http://clu-in.org/products/tpm/ ]
Soil Health
The capacity of a soil to be used productively without adversely affecting its future productivity, the ecosystem, and the environment.
[Cornell University Soil Health Team. 2005. Cornell Soil Health Web Site. http://soilhealth.cals.cornell.edu/ ]
Soil Organic Carbon
The total organic carbon of a soil exclusive of carbon from undecayed plants and animal residues.
Food and Agriculture Organization. 2007. Global Terrestrial Observing System, Terrestrial Ecosystem Monitoring Sites. ftp://ftp.fao.org/docrep/fao/010/a1424e/a1424e01.pdf ]
Soil Organic Matter
The living microbes in the soil, partially decayed plant material and microbes, and the stable material formed from decomposed plants and microbes.
[University of Maine Cooperative Extension. Know Your Soil – Bulletin #2288. http://extension.umaine.edu/publications/2288e/ ]
Stressors
Physical, chemical, or biological entities that can induce adverse effects on ecosystems or human health.
Substitution
The use of a replacement ecosystem where an altered environment can no longer support any naturally occurring type of ecosystem in the bioregion.
[Clewell, A. et al. 2005. Society for Ecological Restoration International: Guidelines for Developing and Managing Ecological Restoration Projects, 2nd Edition. www.ser.org ]
Tilth
The state of aggregation of a soil especially in relation to its suitability for crop growth.
[Cumberland County, Maryland, Conservation District. 2007. Biosolid terms. http://www.cumberlandcd.com/ ]
Transformation
The conversion of an ecosystem to a different kind of ecosystem or land use type.
[Society for Ecological Restoration International Science & Policy Working Group, 2004.The SER International Primer on Ecological Restoration. www.ser.org & Tucson: Society for Ecological Restoration International.]

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