Portland Community College | Portland, Oregon

Course Number:
ESR 204
Course Title:
Introduction to Environmental Restoration
Credit Hours:
Lecture Hours:
Lecture/Lab Hours:
Lab Hours:
Special Fee:

Course Description

Develops an understanding of the ecological theory and practice of environmental restoration using local and global case studies. Provides opportunities to engage in hands-on experience with restoration projects in a variety of ecosystems, and at different stages of the restoration process. Includes fieldwork. Prerequisites: ESR 171 or ESR 200 or BI 143 and WR 115, RD 115 and MTH 20 or equivalent placement test scores. Audit available.

Addendum to Course Description

Fieldwork statement

Fieldwork is a professional competence in many areas of Environmental Studies. Standard field practices include measurements of abiotic and biotic components in a variety of environmental conditions and habitat types. Fieldwork includes use of all the senses to make observations in natural and built environments. Field training may include developing skills in site characterization, application of key terms and concepts, species identification, and measurement and data collection using appropriate equipment. Fieldwork may include inherent risks (uneven terrain, off-trail work with map & compass, variable weather, insects, environmental irritants, travel, stress, etc.).

Intended Outcomes for the course

Upon completion of the course students should be able to:

  1. Describe the history, motivation and purposes of environmental restoration.
  2. Identify the indirect and direct drivers, stressors, and ecological effects of environmental degradation in diverse ecosystems.
  3. Analyze the steps in the restoration process (diagnosis, goal setting, planning, supporting, monitoring and evaluation) for a variety of case studies.
  4. Develop an understanding of restoration approaches including modification of landforms, hydrology, soil and water quality, and establishment of native plant and animal communities.
  5. Participate in and reflect upon aspects of a range of local restoration projects.
  6. Collect data and analyze the scientific literature to help inform restoration practices.

Course Activities and Design

  • Lectures
  • In-class activities including development of conceptual ecological models
  • Student-led case study presentations and discussions
  • Field trips to local restoration sites
  • Talks from local restoration practitioners
  • Data collection and analysis
  • Engagement in restoration process (site assessment, site preparation, planting, and/or monitoring)
  • Presentations and/or papers on scientific papers
  • Reflection on restoration project (poster, presentation or paper)

Outcome Assessment Strategies

  • Quizzes and/or reflections on weekly field and laboratory experiences.
  • Case study presentations and discussions.
  • Presentation on a scientific paper related restoration ecology.
  • Reflection on restoration project.
  • Exams with short answer and essay questions.

Course Content (Themes, Concepts, Issues and Skills)


  • Describe the history and motivation for environmental restoration.
  • Describe and observe the stages in restoration processes (site assessment, diagnosis, goal-setting, site-preparation, implementation, monitoring and evaluation)
  • Use models to help understand and communicate complex social and ecological interactions in degraded and restored ecosystems.
  • Describe some of the social and institutional structures supporting restoration work.
  • Describe and observe various approaches to restoration including modification of disturbance regimes, hydrology, land forms, soil and water quality, and interactions within biological communities.


  • Read and analyze scientific papers
  • Collect and analyze data
  • Interpret landscape planting plans
  • Identify common native and invasive plants
  • Analyze vegetation community types (wetland, upland, riparian, prairie)
  • Apply basic wetland delineation approaches (hydrology, soil and plant communities)
  • Collaborate with peers -- Work effectively in groups
  • Communicate effectively using oral presentations, poster presentation and/or written assignments