From the U. S. Fish and Wildlife Service: For millions of years, nature has been designing and building river and wetland habitats, which are some of the most diverse and productive systems on Earth. These habitats, also known as fluvial systems, benefit society by providing important habitat for wildlife, supplying drinking water and irrigation for crops, delivering electricity through hydropower and more. However, they are imperiled due to human alterations resulting in habitat loss, degradation and fragmentation. Overtime, there’s been a growing interest in “Process-based restoration,” whereby the practitioner addresses underlying causes of degradation so the stream can rebuild and restore the wildlife habitat on its own. To reverse some of the damage, process-based restoration focuses on restoring natural process, for instance, reconnecting streams to floodplains or mimicking beaver presence. While restoring natural process shows promise, many restoration efforts still rely heavily on civil-engineered design requiring large quantities of rock, fossil fuels and heavy equipment to construct stream channels and stabilize banks. These efforts may be counterproductive as they protect streams from the very processes, such as channel migration, needed for a healthy ecosystem.
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