A Review of Ecological Restoration Research in the Global South and North to Promote Knowledge Dialogue

Sebastián Ballari, Catherine Roulier, Erik Nielsen, J. Pizarro, Christopher Anderson

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

8 Scopus citations


To determine global trends in ecological restoration (ER) research, we conducted a geographically-explicit English-language literature review. We assessed a representative sample (n=603) of publications that use the ER concept (n=8,678). Only 19.2% (n=118) were explicit ER studies, and these were evaluated to determine geographic location, research framework, ER paradigm, journal disciplinary orientation, article type, disturbance factor studied, and ER-response measurements. The Global North produced 2x more studies than the South, and ecological research frameworks predominated overall. However, significantly more Southern studies operated under a postmodern paradigm (i.e., addressing ecosystem processes, functions and health) than in the North, where more studies sought to reconstitute pre-disturbance biotic assemblages (i.e., classical paradigm). Both regions published mostly in natural science journals, but significantly more in the North; in the South, there were significantly more publications in engineering journals. An incipient socio-ecological research framework was detected in the North (23.1%) and South (32.5%), but social science studies were only found in the North (11.5%). Plus, the North had significantly more conceptual publications. Opportunities exist in both regions to enhance a holistic ER perspective. Southern scientists and practitioners could pay attention to context-specific concepts and approaches. Understanding global and regional ER research trends can contribute to improving theoretical, practical and ethical outcomes.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)298-310
Number of pages13
JournalConservation and Society
Issue number3
StatePublished - Jul 1 2020


  • Ecosystem services
  • ecological restoration
  • environmental degradation
  • remediation
  • restoration ecology
  • socio-ecological systems

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Ecology
  • Nature and Landscape Conservation
  • Management, Monitoring, Policy and Law


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