Synopses & Reviews
Prairies are among the most severely degraded ecosystems on the North American continent, with virtually no original prairie land extant in a pristine state. Because of the amount and severity of environmental damage visited upon them, prairies have become a proving ground for the fledgling craft of ecological restoration.
The restoration of ecosystems is a practical science, with little theoretical knowledge available to guide the work of practitioners. Information is acquired primarily through an arduous process of trial and error, and the need for sharing information is immense. The Tallgrass Restoration Handbook is thus an essential contribution to the literature.
The book is a hands-on manual that provides a detailed account of what has been learned about the art and science of prairie restoration and the application of that knowledge to restoration projects throughout the world. Chapters provide guidance on all aspects of the restoration process, from conceptualization and planning, to execution and monitoring. Specific chapters cover:
- conserving biodiversity
- restoring populations of rare plants
- plowing and seeding
- obtaining and processing seeds
- conducting burns
- controlling invasive plants
- animal populations
- monitoring vegetation and more
Other resources include a key to restoration options that provides detailed instructions for specific types of projects and a comprehensive glossary of restoration terms. Appendixes present hard-to-find data on plants and animals of the prairies, seed collection dates, propagation methods, sources of seeds and equipment, and more.
The Tallgrass Restoration Handbook is a state-of-the-art compendium that can serve a vital role as a sort of "parts catalog and repair manual" for the tallgrass prairies and oak openings of the Midwest. Written by those whose primary work is actually the making of prairies, it explores a myriad of restoration philosophies and techniques and is an essential resource for anyone working to nurture our once-vibrant native landscapes to a state of health.
About the Author
Stephen Packard is director of science and stewardship for the Illinois chapter of The Nature Conservancy, and research associate in the department of botany at the Field Museum of Natural History in Chicago. Cornelia F. Mutel is a historian of science at the University of Iowa's Institute for Hydraulic Research and author of two books on natural history, "Fragile Giants" (University of Iowa Press, 1989) and "Grassland to Glacier" (Johnson Books, 1992).