After a century of human use and development, the forest ecosystem in Giant Forest had changed in several ways. Paved roads, trails, and parking lots changed drainage patterns, allowing water to concentrate and create erosion gullies. Vehicle and foot travel compacted the soil and quickly broke down needles and twigs on the soil surface, depleting the topsoil of organic matter. Groups of mature trees were cleared for buildings and parking lots. Fire, on which giant sequoias depend for regeneration, could not be used in Giant Forest Village. There were very few grasses, wildflowers, shrubs, or tree seedlings in the Village because of lack of fire and human trampling.
Ecological restoration is the process of assisting the recovery and management of ecological integrity. In Giant Forest, the goals of ecological restoration were to:
Regrade roads, trails, parking lots, and other altered landforms to approximate original topography and drainage patterns.
Restore soil properties to approximate those of surrounding, undisturbed soils.
Restore the vegetation in the short term by reproducing the species composition, density, and spatial pattern of regeneration that would result from a natural fire event
Restore the vegetation in the long term by integrating the site into the natural fire regime typical of surrounding areas of Giant Forest.