Ecological restoration in mediterranean-type shrublands and woodlands
MetadataShow full item record
The Mediterranean-type ecosystems (further MTEs) are limited to five regions on Earth (Cowling et al. 1996): Mediterranean Basin, California, Central Chile, the Cape of South Africa and the Southwest (and partly South) Australia. These regions are characteristic of western ocean coastlines in warm-temperate latitudes characterized by descending water-deprived ethesial winds. They are invariably transitional between temperate forests and semi-deserts. Precipitation seasonality and prevalence of winter-rainfall/summer drought cycling are regular, although not exclusive to the MTEs (Blumler 2005; Rebelo et al. 2006). Fire has been part of the natural regeneration cycles and undoubtedly also evolutionary history of the scrublands and woodlands (perhaps except for the Chilean MTE) for millions of years. The Northern Hemisphere MTEs and the Central Chilean MTE are home to relatively young geologically and climatically dynamic landscapes. The MTEs of the African Cape and Australia are, on the other hand, geologically quiescent and climatically buffered – most of these regions qualify as Old Stable Landscapes (Hopper 2009; Mucina and Wardell-Johnson 2011). MTEs are evolutionary hotbeds and musea: they are home to several global centres of biodiversity (Myers et al. 2000) and have about 20 per cent of total floristic diversity in an area covering just 5 per cent of the land surface. Vegetation of the MTEs is typically sclerophyllous shrublands, however (pine, oak, eucalyptus) woodlands are also important. Besides the enormous biodiversity, the regions supporting MTEs have been under human pressure for a long time. Some (Mediterranean Basin and its eastern outposts in the Middle East) have been the cradle of agriculture and have seen the rise of many civilizations. Past and present human use put these ecosystems under pressure and where possible and feasible, restoration of these ecosystems emerged as one of the ways for their wise, future-oriented management. Each of the partial MTEs is exposed to multiple challenges of rehabilitation and a profound review of these is beyond the scope of this chapter. Therefore we have embarked on featuring the dominant rehabilitation focus in each MTE.