Yale Study: Ecosystems Can Recover in Decades

The Yale School of Forestry and Environmental Studies (YSFES) found that polluted ecosystems can and do recover from damage well within decades if communities commit to restoring the ecosystem.

After scrutinizing 240 independent studies on large-scale ecosystem recovery, the YSFES examined the impact of high-level disturbances like agriculture, logging and deforestation, invasive species, mining and oil spills on seven ecosystem types including forest, marine, freshwater, terrestrial and brackish.

The YSFES study concluded that most ecosystems impacted by multiple environmental disturbances recovered in 56 years, with forests recovering in an average of 42 years and ocean bottoms recovering in five to 10 years.

The study looked at three indicator categories; plant community, animal community and ecosystem function, and measured 94 different variables. The analysis of the 240 studies showed that 83 studies showed recovery in all of the variables, 90 demonstrated a mix of recovery and non-recovery variables, and 67 reported no recovery variables.

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