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Managing for sustained biodiversity and restoration of natural habitat has become increasingly important over the last two decades, first as mitigation for development (especially in wetlands), and more recently in natural areas. The latter has come about as land managing agencies like the Department of Defense and Bureau of Land Management have seen the need to reverse the impact of past land uses and agencies like the National Park Service and The Nature Conservancy have taken on the responsibility for less-than-pristine lands. On the California Channel Islands, the need for restoring and managing biodiversity is great, but this restoration and management needs to be based on a sound ecological understanding. By conducting surveys, implementing long-term research and monitoring, and by conducting population and community dynamics research, the necessary data to arrive at such an understanding can be obtained. Once management actions have been taken to effect restoration, monitoring needs to be conducted to determine the success of those actions. The need is to gain enough of an understanding of the islands' ecosystems that we can manage to restore, not just populations of native plants and animals, but also the process of a naturally functioning ecosystem. The challenges that confront this goal are many and include ecology and population biology, conservation ecology, information management, agency mandates and regulations, the need to build constituencies and consensus among disparate groups, financing, and political pressures.
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Landscape management challenges on the California Channel Islands