Riverscape ecosystem restoration using natural solutions

No. Question Answer Timestamped Validation
1 What is the concept of "natural infrastructure"? Natural infrastructure refers to natural areas managed in such a way that they provide both ecological and societal benefits while allowing for dynamic, natural processes. [1]
2 What are the implications of non-natural river restoration projects? It has been too limited and costly to meet the scale and scope of degradation challenges. [2]
3 In what way did the river ecosystems of earlier centuries differ from those of today? The river ecosystems of earlier centuries would have consisted of networks of beaver-dam ponds, rivulets and riparian wetlands that spread across valley bottoms, as well as similarly complex and dynamic riverscapes and floodplains. They were much more naturally dynamic than today's rivers. [3]
4 How did the large-scale trapping of beavers in the late 19th century change stream ecosystems in North America? The large-scale trapping of beavers in the late 19th century removed timber splash dams and wood jam removal for navigation, transitioning streams from hydraulically inefficient mosaics of wetlands to higher energy, single-thread channels that drained alluvial aquifers, causing a “structural starvation” of riverscapes which has continued into the 21st century. [4]
5 What are some potential outcomes caused by hydraulic inefficiency? Hydraulic inefficiency is actually a hallmark of a healthy riverscape and can lead to greater habitat complexity. [5]
6 How has the simplification of river channels impacted river ecosystem health? Simplification of river channels has driven a steady decline in overall river ecosystem health. The regulation and reduction of river flow by dams, reservoirs, and diversions have impacted flow regimes and have also led to a disproportionate decline of freshwater habitats and species. These compounded, cumulative impacts have reduced ecological resiliency and increased society’s vulnerability to floods, fires, and drought. [6]
7 What motivated the increase in process-based approaches to stream restoration? The emerging awareness of the ecological potential of historically and structurally complex streams has motivated an increased emphasis on process-based approaches to stream restoration. [7]
8 How have process-based restoration strategies improved river quality? Process-based restoration strategies offer an alternative approach with improved outcomes. Such approaches have restored complex riparian wetlands at or near historical ecological potential that now function as a filter and sponge to retain sediment and runoff, recharge distributed alluvial aquifers, and store and slowly release clean water through dry seasons and drought to support fisheries. [8]
9 What benefits did the installation of stick and post dams bring to Bridge Creek river? The installation of stick and post dams in Bridge Creek led to an expansion and persistence of beaver dam activity, an increase in both the quantity (i.e., space) and quality of aquatic habitat, as well as increased juvenile abundance, survival, and productivity of endangered steelhead trout. [9]
10 How has Bridge Creek's riverscape recovered due to beaver dam building activity? Due to beaver dam building activity, Bridge Creek has regained functional use of more of its riverscape, in addition to improvements in habitat quality being observed through monitoring. [10]
11 How do beaver-created "emerald refuges" improve resilience to natural fires Areas where beavers have created “emerald refuges” reveal resilience to fire and capacity to capture post-fire sediment that would otherwise choke downstream water treatment plants and reservoirs. [11]
12 What is the financial impact of using natural infrastructure? Reduces capital expenditures and annual maintenance costs. [12]
13 What are some of the benefits of wetlands created by beavers? Widely distributed wetland features capture, retain, and filter runoff from rain and snowmelt, modulate floods and provide cost-effective alternatives or reductions to drinking water treatment facilities and irrigation storage needed to meet current and future municipal and agricultural water supply. These features also provide complex, heterogenous wetland and riparian habitat that are essential to restoring ecosystem health. [13]
14 How can restoring riverscapes help address stresses to water security? Natural infrastructure, in the form of restored riverscapes, can address stresses to water security while providing co-benefits to society and nature. [14]
15 What is the significance of recognizing riverscapes and natural processes? Recognizing riverscapes and natural processes is critical to achieving conservation and restoration goals during this decade of ecosystem restoration. [15]