Balaguer, L., A. Ascudero, J. Martín-Duque, I. Mola and J. Aronson
Ecological restoration aims to revitalize ecosystem integrity and functionality following severe damage or degradation. Often, however, efforts are hampered by an incomplete or flawed concept of historical ‘reference’ used when choosing or constructing a target ecosystem or landscape to restore ‘to’. While strongly confirming the importance of the reference concept in restoration ecology, we argue for the need to refine it, and to broaden the ways it can be conceived, developed, and applied. We use case studies from Spain and Peru to illustrate how this approach can provide better goalposts and benchmarks, and therefore better guide the planning, implementation, and evaluation of effective restoration projects.