Published in Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment in 2015, the article, titled “Aligning Restoration Science and the Law to Sustain Ecological Infrastructure in the Future,” addresses the failure of environmental laws and regulations to distinguish between restoring ecosystems to their historical natural states versus environmental interventions aimed at narrower goals, such as securing ecosystem services, promoting recovery of endangered species, adapting to climate change, and achieving compensatory mitigation. In the article, Ruhl and Palmer recommend that federal regulations governing ecosystem restoration clarify when these specific purposes define the scope and goals of intervention.
The Ecological Sustainability Science Award is given annually to the authors of a scholarly work that makes the greatest contribution to the emerging science of ecosystem and regional sustainability through the integration of ecological and social sciences. “One of the most pressing challenges facing humanity is the sustainability of important ecological, social, and cultural processes in the face of changes in the forces that shape ecosystems and regions,” said plant biologist Katherine L. Gross of Michigan State University’s Kellogg Biological Station, who chaired the award selection committee.
The award will be presented to Ruhl and Palmer at the ESA’s annual meeting in August 2016.