Being proactive in restoration and planning for a more biodiverse planet today (Interview with Keith Bowers of Biohabitats, Part One)

Green Dreamer - Podcast on Environmental Sustainability and Regeneration
We’re not restoring the past; we’re restoring the future. We can look at the past as an analog to say what’s worked in the past and to understand why things are working from an ecological function standpoint, but we’re really dealing with the future.

This is a conversation on Green Dreamer with Kamea Chayne, a podcast and multimedia journal illuminating our paths towards ecological balance, intersectional sustainability, and true abundance and wellness for all. This preview has been edited for clarity. Subscribe to Green Dreamer Podcast on iTunes, Spotify, Stitcher, or any podcast app to stay informed and updated on our latest episodes.


Keith Bowers (@biohabitatspres) is a wetland scientist and the founder and President of Biohabitats, a multidisciplinary organization focused on conservation planning, ecological restoration, and regenerative design, and he's been at the forefront of applied ecology, land conservation and sustainable design for over three decades.

Keith is a founding board member of the University of Pennsylvania’s Ian L. McHarg Center for Urbanism and Ecology; he's served on the board of the Society for Ecological Restoration for more than 10 years and on the board of the Wildlands Network; and he's also a Fellow of the American Society of Landscape Architects.

In this podcast episode, Keith sheds light on how much we need to focus our efforts on restoration versus conservation; why it is that—although we're a part of nature and all species impact their environments in some way—we've uniquely altered our landscapes in ways that require us to now restore habitats; what urban ecology is all about; and more.

To start, get a glimpse below into the conversation between Keith and Green Dreamer Podcast's host, Kamea Chayne.

On conservation versus restoration:

“Even if we conserve areas right now, if we don’t think about restoring back some of the species that were lost and the habitats for those species, we’ll never fully restore the robust and rigorous ecological processes and functions that are needed for the landscape.

Those are some of the things that we’re looking at in our restoration practices:

First, do no harm. Second, we focus on how we can begin integrating restoration into the projects that we work on to try to address some of these issues that we’ve seen happen overtime.”

On why we need to look to the future in restoration:

One of the things that I think about a lot is that when I started working in restoration in the 70’s and 80’s—it was before the alarm bells went off about climate change. We were beginning to learn about what was wrong with our ecosystems and were thinking about having to restore them.

I like to use the saying that we’re not restoring the past, but we’re restoring the future. We can look at the past as an analog to say what’s worked in the past and to understand why things are working from an ecological function standpoint.

But we’re really dealing with the future, because with climate change and changes in nutrient cycles and changes in hydrology, we have to consider that when we restore an ecosystem—that ecosystem has to function and be resilient in the future."

On our need to get involved in urban planning:

“I know we’re all really busy, but to attend a planning meeting with your town or city or a zoning meeting when they’re re-doing the zoning and advocating for [ecological conservation and restoration] is really important.

A lot of the time, grassroots efforts come out of the woodwork when something gets re-zoned or something gets built when the zoning has already been approved. But we’re not there when they’re actually formulating the zoning plans and we’re given the chance to interact at that time.

Those are the times, from an advocacy standpoint, a lot of people can be involved and really make a difference."


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