Ecological Restoration

Students who major in Ecological Restoration will learn to repair ecosystems that have been degraded, damaged or destroyed.

This program equips students with a deep understanding of the interdependent relationships among aquatic and terrestrial ecosystems and the humans who populate them.

The United Nations has declared 2021-2030 the “UN Decade on Ecosystem Restoration,” offering incredible growth in career opportunities for professionals working to enhance food security, promote biodiversity, and address climate change. PSC’s Ecological Restoration program is at the cutting edge of this initiative.

With 14,000 acres of biodiversity right here on campus, here’s what you’ll do:

  • Participate in surveys of a variety of ecosystems: forests, lakes, streams and wetlands.
  • Assess ecological conditions using biological communities (plants and animals).
  • Design and implement projects to restore watersheds, rivers and streams, lakes and wetlands.
  • Engage communities and encourage citizen science.

The mission of the program is to prepare students to be future leaders in the emerging field of ecological restoration. Our graduates will be able to participate in collaborative planning and execution of ecological restoration projects by applying ecosystem knowledge and technical skills, by engaging communities and citizen participation and by using adaptive management. Our graduates will be able to articulate the relationship between ecosystem function and human health and well-being.

Key Facts
  • B.S. degree
  • 120 credit hours (minimum) required

Pairs well with the following minors:

Career Options
  • Restoration ecologist
  • Restoration specialists
  • Habitat restoration
  • Conservation technician
Program Objectives

At the end of the program students will be able to:

  • Foundation One: Science and the Study of Ecosystems. Students learn how science as a body of knowledge and as a method of inquiry are used to understand and study ecosystems.
    • Ecosystem Structure and Function
    • Natural Disturbance Regimes and Succession
    • Measuring Change and Variability in Ecological Systems
    • Matters of Scale (spatial and temporal)
  • Foundation Two: The Study of Human Impacts on Ecosystems. Students learn how to assess the level of damage or degradation to the structure and function of watersheds, rivers and streams, lakes, and wetlands in forested, agricultural and suburban/urban environments.
    • Research Design
    • Survey and Assessment Techniques
    • Selecting Benchmarks or Reference Conditions
    • Human-mediated Alterations to Disturbance Regimes and Succession
    • Identifying Legacy Effects
  • Foundation Three: Developing and Managing Ecological Restoration Projects. Students learn how ecosystem knowledge and human systems are integrated into restoration planning, implementation, and adaptive management in order to restore damaged or degraded ecosystems.
    • Planning Ecological Restoration Projects
    • The Management Environment (Ecosystems and Human Systems)
    • The Management Process (Assessment, Implementation, Monitoring)
    • Teamwork, Collaboration, and Stakeholders
    • Reporting, Celebrating and Publicity
Required Courses

Program Planning Guide »

Core Program Requirements

  • Foundational Courses: Foundations of Environmental Science
  • General Biology
  • Introduction to Cell and Molecular Biology
  • Plant Biology
  • General Ecology
  • Chemistry I & 2
  • Geology or General Geography
  • Dendrology
  • Algebra
  • Statistics
  • Introduction to GIS Ecosystem Courses: Soils and Hydrology
  • Forest Ecology
  • Stream Ecology and Management
  • Wetlands Ecosystems and Management
  • Watershed Management
  • Conservation Biology
  • Ecological Restoration
  • Integrated Natural Resource Management

Two additional planning or policy courses are required.

More information (College Catalog) »


Paul Smith's receives five Best Colleges distinctions, including the No. 1 ranking for Most Innovative Schools. Continue reading »


Our campus sits at the heart of the Adirondacks, a 6-million-acre wilderness that encompasses everything from boggy wetland to alpine forest, and contains a dazzling variety of plant and animal life. The United Nations has declared the region part of an international biosphere reserve.

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