A Place for Alien Species in Ecosystem Restoration

A Place for Alien Species in Ecosystem Restoration


This article makes the case that non-native, or "alien,"  species may be useful in some restoration efforts, and should not be overlooked or completely condemned because they are non-native. Such species can provide ecological and socioeconomic services and in some cases speed up successional processes. 

Conclusions & Takeaways

Non-native species may be useful for nursing plants, seed recruitment, providing fuel for restoring fire-based systems, biological control in trophic relationships, provision of surrogat resources, phytoremediation, and biogeochemical services (such as nitrogen fixation). Severe degradation of environmental systems poses a greater threat in some cases than the use of non-native species in restoration.




Ewel JJ, Putz FE. A place for alien species in ecosystem restoration. Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment. 2004;2:354–360. doi:10.1890/1540-9295(2004)002[0354:apfasi]2.0.co;2.


  • US Forest Service, Pacific Southwest Research Station, Institute of Pacific Islands Forestry, Honolulu, HI
  • Department of Botany, University of Florida, Gainesville, FL