Planning Management and Evaluation in Restoration Ecology - Lake Harding Association

Planning Management and Evaluation in Restoration Ecology

Planning Management and Evaluation in Restoration Ecology

By Micah Moen 0 Comment February 10, 2020

This video presents a brief overview of topics
in restoration ecology related to planning, management, and evaluation.
Over a decade ago, Clewell, Rieger, and Munro (2005) offered 51 guidelines for developing
and managing restoration projects in a brief document adopted by the Society for Ecological
Restoration (SER) International. This guidance document is currently available on the web
in three languages, English, Portuguese, and Italian, demonstrating the international intent
of the society. These 51 guidelines can be broken down into
six critical steps for restoration planning including conceptual planning, preliminary
tasks, implementation planning, implementation tasks, post-implementation tasks, evaluation
and publicity. As you can see, the first three tasks, which include planning efforts, make
up the majority of the guidance. Completing these steps in detail should facilitate a
detailed, thorough, and complete restoration project.
Step 1: Conceptual Planning includes considering feasibility, scope, and goals, and includes
tasks 1-16. The first eight tasks help gather basic site information such as location, ownership,
and the like. This is basic information that is essential as the restoration project begins.
Step 1: Conceptual Planning tasks 9-16 focus further on project restrictions such as landscape
location, funding, labor, and equipment needs. This also includes concerns with legality
such as deeds and land restrictions and the source of any biotic materials, like seedlings,
required in this project. Project duration, which can directly influence costs, is also
considered here. Step 2: Preliminary Tasks includes assembling
a team inventory site; identifying reference models; refining goals; applying for permits;
and engaging stakeholders. In tasks 17-22, Clewell et al. (2005) suggest a focus on appointing
a lead restoration practitioner and a restoration team to carry out this work, preparing a budget,
and documenting current conditions as a baseline and to aid in planning.
Under Step 2 Preliminary Tasks, tasks 23-27 focus on the reference model, that is determining
the reference condition for this project. This is a critical part in the restoration
planning process and should not be overlooked or minimized. Realistic, project specific
knowledge and objectives must be developed to facilitate project success. Clewell et
al. (2005) clarify [quote] “Objectives are subject to precise empirical
determination. Objectives are selected with the anticipation that their completion will
allow the fulfillment of project goals. Goals are less amenable to precise empirical determination,
because they require measurements of innumerable parameters that are constantly subject to
change on account of ecosystem dynamics. For that reason, objectives are used as indicators
of the achievement of goals.” [end quote] Under Step 2 Preliminary Tasks, tasks 28-33
focus on gaining permits as needed for any construction activities, establishing working
relationships and a liaison for public agencies and the public at large, public participation,
infrastructure, and training. Step 3: Implementation Planning includes performance
standards, monitoring protocols, setting the schedule and establishing the budget. In this
step, passive versus active restoration is considered, and performance standards are
established with monitoring protocols identified. Keep in mind that each objective should be
quantitatively measured so that project success is clear. Any needed equipment, supplies,
or biotic resources should be obtained at the time of scheduling so that all steps in
the restoration project can move smoothly. Step 4: Implementation Tasks includes marking
the site (think of flagging before development or logging) and initiating the project. The
boundaries and work area must be clearly marked to avoid confusion. Any permanent monitoring
fixtures, like photo points, monitoring wells, or elevation benchmarks, should be installed,
and all restoration tasks should be implemented. Step 5: Post-implementation Tasks include
maintenance and check-ups. Any protections needed, for example, over grazing by deer
or off-road vehicle use, should be prevented. The restoration site should be surveyed regularly,
especially in the first year after project implementation. Monitoring, assessment, and
adaptive management steps should be implemented as needed.
In Step 6: Evaluation and Publicity, the restoration practitioner and restoration team will evaluate
the monitoring data and correct or amending the project if necessary. This is a step towards
adaptive environmental management. Step 6 also includes preparation of the final restoration
report. Regarding publicity, this is the step where the project manager publicly celebrates
the project completion. As Clewell et al. (2005) note, too many times project results
are lost when restoration practioners move on to new projects before evaluating and finalizing
a project. Project review and sharing of lessons learned help forward the field of restoration
ecology, and prevent others from ‘reinventing the wheel’ when it comes to failed and successful
restoration strategies. The following references were consulted in
developing this video lecture.

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