What are ecoregions?

Ecoregions are relatively large units of land containing a distinct assemblage of natural communities and species, approximating the original extent of natural communities before major land-use change or degradation, and which are different from neighboring ecoregions. One can imagine ecoregions to be like an original ‘canvas painted by nature and informed by the distribution of plants and animals, the effects of mountain ranges, and other geographic and climatic features that determine “who lives where” in the natural world.’ The ecoregion approach was refined by Eric Dinerstein, David Olson and others for all land areas of Earth. The approach uses climatic, geological and biogeographical indicators to define the kind of biodiversity that could be found in a region irrespective of the current land use. This helps in identifying the right plant species and indicators of a healthy ecosystem within your area.

Why have we taken an ecoregion approach?

The ecoregion approach is better than alternatives such as those based on forest types (which ignores non-forest ecosystems), biomes (which are too broad), or land-use and land cover maps (which feature current use rather than potential ecosystems that can be restored in an area). As topography, soil, climate, and biogeography are considered in delineation of ecoregions, they provide a better idea of “what grows where” and a better ecological sense of place. The ecoregion approach, however, has potential to be expanded, refined, and modified and we hope to do this in future by bringing in more detail to the existing ecoregion maps.

Can I use any of the listed native plants of the ecoregion for my project?

Yes, you can, with an important caveat. Ecoregions are still broad regions and may not always account for the specific conditions of your site. Ecoregions are part of ecological gradients and may have significant internal variation, which are highlighted in the ecoregion dossiers and which you can use to refine your choices. While the species listed here could be a good match for your project, it is important to find locally appropriate benchmarks within the ecoregion as a reference site for plants and biodiversity.

How is ecological restoration different from agroforestry, food forests and plantations?

At the heart of ecological restoration lies biodiversity and conservation of local and native species. It views people as part of the ecosystem and not as drivers and managers of the ecosystem. Ecological restoration aims to bring back native species and communities, build ecological resilience, and revive natural ecosystems and human-nature relationships. In this way, it differs from agroforestry, food forests and plantations, where the primary aims are natural resource extraction or harvest, and the main beneficiaries are people.

Who is this platform meant for?

Anyone who has an interest in ecological restoration is welcome to use and join this platform. We are an open community and welcome everyone to join in on this journey.

Why should I become a member of ERA?

As a member you will have increased visibility, and people would be able to reach out to you to collaborate or network. The platform consists of resources, publications, user manuals, webinars, methods, and a discussion forum related to ecological restoration and monitoring, as well as lists practitioners, field researchers, botanists, conservationists, ecological gardeners and others who would be working in different ecoregions that could help in your project.

How do I become a member?

Becoming a member is easy. As there are no prerequisites other than an interest in ecological restoration, you could click on Become a Member, fill in the form and we will get back to you.

Can I also add resources into the platform?

Yes, use the resources upload form for this. We want to aggregate as many possible resources for ecological restoration in this platform to make it a one-stop resource base for India. Once you fill in the form, we will review it and upload the resource in the relevant sections.

How do you select projects that are listed on the platform?

The projects listed on the platform are curated by the ERA team. The projects must be in line with ERA India’s Restoration Charter. Let us know if you want to feature your project here, and we will get in touch with you, to know more about your project. In general, we do not feature projects that are of the nature of generic tree planting, greening or afforestation of non-forest ecosystems, or unrelated to ecological restoration per se (e.g., organic farming, agroforestry etc.). Projects in private lands, urban gardens etc that have a significant component of revival of native plant species will be considered.

I want to start a project, how can this platform help?

The platform can help in many ways. The map interface will help you identify the right ecoregion your site falls in and the accompanying dossier will help you learn more about the ecoregion and suitable native plant species for restoration. Check out the other resources available on the platform to help you get started. You can find projects in your region to help you identify potential guides and mentors for your project. If you want someone else to restore the site for you, you could look for restoration practitioners who are familiar with your region.

When would you support regional languages?

We would love to support regional languages as soon as possible, unfortunately there is little content that we have found in languages other than English. If you do know of good resources for ecological restoration in regional languages please reach out to us and we will try to add them here. You could also volunteer and help us translate some of the content into regional languages. 🙂