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ment. Most of the methods require sophisticated machines, careful engineering, and timed planting to be successful. Next, the degraded soils, if they are to be rebuilt quickly, will require the precise addition of minerals, fertilizers, organic matter, and vegetation to effect rapid stabilization and to increase its moisture retention. The subsequent step, intentionally recreating a forest, requires a knowledge not only of the original forest cover but also of a range of equivalent species that play an analogous role while serving as a key economic component. This ecosystem is in some respects a cross between a forest and an orchard. In our hypothetical example the wild deer of the original may be replaced by domestic animals—not necessarily cattle, however, but by the European fallow deer (Cervinae dama), which fit ecologically and are highly marketable because of the extremely low cholesterol levels in their flesh.
The goal of this ecological restoration is the production of food and fiber on a commercial scale. It is not agriculture but an ecology with agricultural elements within a broader biological framework. It does not have the environmental destructiveness of monocrop agriculture or simpler agricultural systems. Its function is to restore diversity and to be bountiful in terms directly useful to humans. Linking together nature’s restoration requirements with the economic needs of people may be the only way the terrestrial fabric of the planet can be rebuilt.
Large amounts of human labor are essential to the restoration process. For example, labor is needed to plant new trees and to provide them with adequate moisture and protection from weed competition or predation by grazing animals. To support the required labor, restoration ecology will have to attract capital. The future hillside ecosystem will have to be seen as a prudent investment, possibly providing favorable returns within years rather than decades.
The goal of much of my research and planning over the last 15 years has been to find ways of economically underwriting the restoration and diversification process. This has involved the development of a family of biotechnologies that are in essence short-cycle ecosystems with economic by-products that also have the capacity to catalyze the longer-cycle restoration processes. These biotechnologies have been proven successful and in some contexts have been shown to be cost-effective and economically feasible (Todd and Todd, 1984). We have not yet had the opportunity to integrate all the subsystems into a full-scale restoration project, but an outline of a restoration project in the Mediterranean has been prepared (Todd, 1983, 1984). In addition, projects for the west coast of Costa Rica and the Atlantic coast of Morocco are now in the planning stage.
The Costa Rican project is intended to reclaim lands badly degraded because of earlier inappropriate agriculture. The proposed Moroccan project involves creating a diverse plant environment where the desert and the sea meet. In this instance, the newly created ecosystems will provide part of the underpinnings for a new human settlement.
In all the above examples, the land is not currently fit for intensive agriculture or easy restoration. A new biotechnology, which we have named the desert-farming module, provides the short-term ecological economy needed to initiate the restoration cycle. The development of this technology began at the New Alchemy Institute under my direction in 1974. In summary, a desert-farming module is a