Hydropower is expanding globally and is regarded a key measure for mitigating climate change, but it also results in major environmental degradation, both at local scale and more widely. We can learn lessons about how restoration can be used to alleviate these problems from failures and successes in countries with a long history of hydropower development, such as Norway. Here, hydropower projects grew larger over time, and in the 1960s, the emerging environmentalist movement started to challenge hydropower developments because of their negative impacts on the environment. The Norwegian Water Resources and Energy Directorate then appointed a landscape architect who became very influential, particularly due to his skills in aesthetics and photo documentation. He developed principles for designing self-sustaining environments which he called “living nature”, and in particular proposed methods of restoring barren, unattractive, alpine spoil heaps. Later, restoration methods and goals have changed in response to new insights and the changing goals of ecological restoration. Here, we present current best practice for the alpine biome and sum up general lessons in three points: restoration can represent a sustainable, ‘third way’ in the conflict between conservation and development; including a wider group of professionals may improve restoration goals and methods, and effective use of visual communication can be a good way of gaining support for new restoration principles.
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