January 2024

We are thrilled to share our 2023 highlights and provide a glimpse into what lies ahead for the Ecological Health Network (EHN) in 2024.

Our gratitude extends to the meaningful relationships we've cultivated and are committed to nurturing. These connections play a pivotal role in pressing forward with our mission of accelerating the practice, understanding, and awareness of ecological restoration and its importance for human health and the ecosystems on which we depend. 

Sunset over the Madre de Dios River, Peru. Photo credit: Thibaud Aronson.

The EHN team is growing!

James Aronson, Laura Orlando, Lauren Shew, Neva Goodwin, and Eve Allen at an EHN retreat in Seal Harbor, Maine. September 2023.

Last year, Eve Allen has come on board as our Program Director for the U.S. Northeast Bioregion, and Lauren Shew is serving as our Director of Operations. Adam Cross, our Science Director, has taken on a second role as the newest member of the Steering Committee. We also welcome Dr. Jessica Stanhope, an epidemiologist and registered physiotherapist at the University of Adelaide, Australia, as an EHN Research Fellow and Dr. Katherine Lawless, an Associate Professor at Huron University’s Center for Global Studies, in Ontario, Canada, as an EHN Research Affiliate.

Read More Here

We have also worked with several wonderful interns over the past year: Jackie Anderson, Rebecca O’Brien, Brooke Reynolds, and Kay Allen.

Thank you for all of your help.

New efforts in the U.S. Northeast Bioregion

The U.S. Northeast Bioregion is defined both geographically and ecologically. It stretches from the Great Lakes to the Atlantic Ocean, encompassing Mixed Wood Plains and Atlantic Highlands ecoregions. In 2023, we began working to address two key obstacles to scaling-up ecological restoration in the region: chronic shortages of genetically appropriate, viable seeds and plant material and gaps in science, policy, and practice among existing restoration sites. 

We established the Seed & Plant Supply Chain Program to educate about and help build a northeast native seed supply chain. The Program got a boost when in March, the Ecological Health Network, the Native Plant Trust, and many other partners launched the Northeast Seed Network.

This new partnership will foster exchange among educational institutions, botanical gardens and seedbanks, private companies, non-profit organizations, and Tribal Nations to develop a community of practice to improve the accessibility of the native seed and plant material for the ecoregions of the Northeast and Northern Mid-Atlantic States. These relationships and others will help us better understand how EHN can be a catalyst for vastly increasing the restoration of ecosystems in the northeastern United States. Stay tuned!

Seed increase field at Native Plant Trust’s Nasami Farm in Whately, Massachusetts.

Global engagement on ecological restoration with scholarship, handshakes, and laughter

EHN leadership, members, and allies published several articles and participated in a number of workshops, conferences, and other forums last year. 

Publications include:

Cross, A. T., & Aronson, J. (2023). Editorial: Plant-soil-microbe interactions and drivers in ecosystem development and ecological restoration. Frontiers in Ecology and Evolution, 11. https://doi.org/10.3389/fevo.2023.1216016  


Stanhope, J., & Weinstein, P. (2023). Exposure to environmental microbiota may modulate gut microbial ecology and the immune system. Mucosal Immunology. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.mucimm.2023.03.001  


Sekera, J., Cagalanan, D., Swan, A., Birdsey, R., Goodwin, N., & Lichtenberger, A. (2023). Carbon dioxide removal–what’s worth doing? A biophysical and public need perspective. PLOS Climate, 2(2). https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pclm.0000124  

Several articles by EHN team members and allies have been published in the Natural History of Ecological Restoration. This publication is a joint project of EHN, the Missouri Botanical Garden, and the Restoration Ecology Lab at Virginia Tech. Look for a makeover in 2024!

Check Out More Publications

Workshops, conferences, and forums

Stretching back to 2022, we organized a European workshop at Qvidja Manor in Finland. Our hosts were Saara Kankaanrinta and Ilkka Herlin, whose Qvidja Farm is an EHN site. This was followed-up by our participation in Society for Ecological Restoration’s Europe 2022 Conference in Alicante, Spain.

In May 2023, Eve Allen and James Aronson represented EHN at the National Native Seed Conference in Washington, D.C. Eve and her colleagues published in the Natural History of Ecological Restoration about the conference.

In June, EHN organized two symposiums at the Reclaim, Restore, and Rewild conference jointly hosted by the Society for Ecological Restoration – Eastern Canada and the Canadian Land Reclamation Association in Quebec City, Canada: (1) Learnings from and opportunities for Indigenous-oriented ecological restoration and rehabilitation in SE Canada and NE USA and, (2) Holistic Ecological Restoration: four key elements and the way forward. 

We are grateful to our symposia collaborators: Matthew Burke, University of Vermont; Sefra Alexandra, the Ecotype Project; Katherine Lawless, Huron University; Darren Ranco, Penobscot Nation, Coordinator of Native American Research at the University of Maine; Suzanne Greenlaw, Houlton Band of Maliseet Indians, Ph.D. Student at the University of Maine; Terrylynn Brant, Mohawk First Nation, Operator of the Mohawk Seedkeeper Gardens at Six Nations; and Paula and Richard LaPierre, Kichesipirini Algonquin First Nation, Founders of the Sacred Hoop Equestrian Centre.

EHN mourns the passing of Terrylynn “Será:sera” Brant, teacher, author, and a traditional Seedkeeper from the Six Nations Territory in Ontario, Canada.

In October, at the Great Southern Science Symposium in Albany, Australia, Keith Bradby and Adam Cross released ‘Towards Achieving Quality Restoration in Southern-Western Australia’’ This new guidebook brings together information that can help improve the practice of ecosystem restoration in southwestern Australia through the activities of Gondwana Link, an EHN Hub.

Keith Bradby and Adam at the Great Southern Science Symposium releasing Gondwana Link’s quality restoration guide. Photo credit: Gondwana Link Ltd.

In November, EHN affiliate Daniel Pérez hosted the Third Annual Conference of the Ecological Restoration Network in Argentina, bringing together over 400 ecological restoration practitioners and scholars from Latin America. James Aronson gave a keynote presentation about Holistic Ecological Restoration, and Adam Cross presented about the restoration of drylands after disturbances, including mining. 

Daniel and his colleagues at the Ecological Rehabilitation and Restoration Laboratory (LARREA) at the National University of Caviahue have been working with Mapuche leaders to establish hands-on educational programs for Mapuche children at the Caviahue EHN site in the Northern Patagonian Andes.

Read More Here

Mapuche children helping to restore the Araucaria auracana forest in their ancestral lands. Photo Credit Daniel Pérez.

In December, Dr. Pedro Brancalion shared updates in a recent NHER blog post about how the rapidly expanding NewFor Project is helping the Atlantic Forest Restoration Pact, an EHN Hub, meet its goals to restore 30% (15 million hectares) of the fragmented and highly endangered Brazilian Atlantic Forest biome by 2050.

The NewFor team. Photo credit: Gehard Waller.

Looking ahead to 2024

Tree seedings at the Saratoga Springs Tree Nursery in New York State. Photo Credit: Eve Allen.

In the Northeast, we are also engaged in a collaborative research initiative with the University of Massachusetts-Amherst’s Spatial Ecology Lab, ArcheWild Native Plant Nursery, Pinelands Nursery, and Planter’s Choice Nursery. Our focus is on investigating the increased demand for native seeds and plants. Recently, we concluded a survey that garnered over 300 responses from buyers and users of native seed and plant materials spanning thirteen states in the Northeast and Northern Mid-Atlantic regions of the United States. The insights derived from this research will play a pivotal role in supporting the strategic planning work of the Northeast Seed Network over the coming year.

James is looking forward to his visits to Australia, Brazil, Argentina, Spain, and Iceland to meet with EHN colleagues and visit new restoration sites.

Thank you for being caretakers of our precious ecosystems, advocates for biodiversity, and champions of a healthier planet. May the upcoming year be filled with continued growth, impactful projects, and a deepened connection to the natural world.

We are deeply grateful for all the support and contributions we receive. It has allowed us to hire new staff members to sustain and expand our efforts. Every contribution, no matter the size, plays a vital role in helping us achieve our vision of an ecologically healthy relationship between humanity and the biophysical environment.

Make a Donation

The Ecological Health Network is a registered public charity with the I.R.S.

Our EIN is 85-3484507.

Connect with us!

LinkedIn  Instagram  Facebook  X