||Stakeholder engagement. Stakeholder engagement
is essential to the sustained success of any project. Meaningful engagement
must be undertaken at the planning stage of a restoration project, with all
key stakeholders (including the land or water manager, industry interests,
neighbours and Indigenous stakeholders). Plans for public areas or mandatory
restoration include a strategy for stakeholder engagement throughout and upon
completion of the project.(See tool: The Open Standards for the Practice of
||External context assessment. Plans are informed by
regional conservation goals and priorities and:
||Contain a diagram or map of the project in relation
to its surrounding landscape or aquatic elements;
||Identify ways to align habitats at the restoration
site to improve external ecological connectivity with the surrounding landscape
or aquatic environment to optimise colonisation and gene flow potential
between sites; and
||Specify mechanisms for the project to interface
optimally with nearby indigenous ecosystems or land or water use areas.
||Ecosystem baseline inventory. Plans identify the site’s current ecosystem
and its condition -including:
||A list of all native and non-native species evidently persisting on the
site, particularly noting any threatened species or communities;
||Status of current abiotic conditions - including the dimensions, configuration
and physical and chemical condition of streams, waterbodies, land surfaces,
water column or any other material elements relative to prior conditions;
||Relative capacity of the biota on site or external to the site to commence
and continue recovery with or without assistance (i.e. degree of resilience).
This includes undertaking an inventory of:
- Indigenous and non-indigenous species presumed absent
and those potentially persisting as propagules or occurring within colonisation
- Any areas of higher and/or lower condition, including priority resilient areas
and any distinct spatial zones requiring different treatments;
||Type and degree of threats that have caused degradation, damage or destruction
on the site and ways to eliminate, mitigate (or (in some cases) adapt to them; depending on
degree of reversibility). This includes assessment of:
- Historical, existing and anticipated impacts within and external to the site
- e.g. over-utilisation, sedimentation, fragmentation, pest plants and
animals, hydrological impacts, pollution impacts, altered disturbance regimes
and other threats – and ways to manage, remove or adapt to them;
- Description of the need for supplementing genetic diversity for species reduced
to non-viable population sizes due to fragmentation [to a standard described
in Offord & Meagher 2009 (for flora); and IUCN/SSC 2013 (for fauna)].
- Existing and anticipated effects of climate change (temperature, rainfall,
sea level, marine acidity etc.) on species and genotypes with respect to likely
future viability. (For useful tools see: Appendix 3).
||Reference ecosystem identification. Plans identify and describe (to the
level needed to assist project design) the appropriate local native reference
ecosystem(s), actual or compiled from historical or predictive records. (Generic
information on benchmark characteristics and functions for the ecosystems may
be available in state-based guidelines. These should be used to assist, not
replace, reference ecosystem identification.) The reference ecosystem will represent
the composition and any notable structure or functions (reflecting the six ecosystem
||Substrate characteristics (biotic or abiotic, aquatic or terrestrial);
||The ecosystem's functional attributes including nutrient cycles,
characteristic disturbance and flow regimes, animal-plant interactions, ecosystem
exchanges and any disturbance-dependence of component species;
||The major characteristic species (representing all plant growth
forms and functional groups of micro and macro fauna)
||Any ecological mosaics, requiring the use of multiple reference ecosystems
on a site. (In cases where intact ecosystems are being disturbed and then restored,
the pre-existing intact ecosystems must be mapped in detail prior to site disturbance);
||Assessment of habitat needs of important biota (including any minimum
range areas for fauna and their responses to both degradation pressures and
||Targets, goals and objectives. To produce well-targeted works and measure
whether success has been achieved (see also Monitoring, below), plans identify
a clearly stated:
||Restoration target - i.e. reference ecosystem (including description
of ecosystem attributes);
||Restoration goal(s) - i.e. the condition or state of that ecosystem
and attributes that you are aiming to achieve;
||Restoration objectives - i.e. changes and immediate outcomes needed to achieve
the target and goals relative to any distinct spatial zones within the site.
Such objectives are stated in terms of measurable and quantifiable indicators
to identify whether or not the project is reaching its objectives within identified
||Restoration treatment prescription. Plans contain clearly stated treatment
prescriptions for each zone, describing what, where and by whom treatments will
be undertaken and their order or priority. Where knowledge or experience is lacking, adaptive management or targeted research that informs what an appropriate prescription is, will be necessary.
||Descriptions of actions to be undertaken for elimination and mitigation of or adaptation
to causal problems;
||Identification of (and brief rationale for) specific restoration approaches; descriptions of specific
treatments for each zone and prioritization of actions. Depending on the condition
of the site, this includes identification of:
- Amendments to the shape, configuration, chemistry or other physical condition
of abiotic elements to render them amenable to the recovery of target biota
and ecosystem structure and function;
- Effective and ecologically appropriate strategies and techniques for the control
of undesirable species to protect desirable species, their habitats and the
sensitivities of the site.
- Ecologically appropriate methods for triggering regeneration or achieving
reintroduction of any missing species.
- Specifications for appropriate species selection and genetic sourcing of biota
to be reintroduced. In the case of fauna, a strategy for sourcing and re-introduction
should comply with IUCN/SSC (2013). In the case of plant species a strategy
for sustainable seed supply and a timetable for collection and supply of seed
should be prepared that complies with guidelines in 'Plant germplasm conservation
in Australia' (Offord & Meagher 2009) and the 2016 or later revision
of the Florabank guidelines and codes of practice http://www.florabank.org.au/. Useful
standards for seed-related practice can be found in Australian Seeds, Sweedman
& Merritt (2006) and Revegetation Industry Association of Western Australia's
(RIAWA) Seed Industry Standards http://riawa.com.au/wordpress/wp-content/uploads/2015/05/01-RIAWA-Seed-Standards-1505201.pdf
- Identification of ecologically appropriate strategies (such as leaving gaps
for in-fill plantings in subsequent seasons) for addressing circumstances where
the ideal species or genetic stock is not immediately available.
||Assessing security of site tenure and of post treatment maintenance scheduling.
Some indication of potential for long term conservation management of the site
is required before undertaking a restoration plan. Plans identify:
||Security of tenure of the site to enable long term restoration commitment
and allow appropriate ongoing access and management;
||Potential for adequate arrangements for ongoing prevention of impacts
and maintenance on the site after completion of the project to ensure that the
site does not regress into a degraded state.
||Analysing logistics: Some indication of potential for resourcing the project
and of likely risks is required before undertaking a restoration plan. Plans
address practical constraints and opportunities including:
||Identifying funding, labour (including appropriate skill level) and other
resourcing arrangements that will enable appropriate treatments (including follow
up treatments) until the site reaches a stabilised condition.
||Undertaking a full risk assessment and identifying a risk management
strategy for the project, particularly including contingency arrangements for
unexpected changes in environmental conditions or resourcing;
||A rationale for the duration of the project and means to maintain commitment
to its aim, objectives and targets over that period; and,
||Permissions, permits and legal constraints applying to the site and the
||Review process scheduling: Plans include a schedule and timeframe for:
||Stakeholder and independent peer review as required; and,
||Review of the plan in the light of new knowledge, changing environmental
conditions and lessons learned from the project.
the implementation phase, restoration projects are managed in such a way
||No further and lasting damage is caused by the restoration works to any
natural resources or elements of the landscape or waterscape that are being
conserved, including physical damage (e.g. clearing, burying topsoil, trampling),
chemical pollution (e.g.over-fertilising, pesticide spills) or biological contamination
(e.g. introduction of invasive species and pathogens, e.g. see http://www.environment.gov.au/biodiversity/threatened/publications/threat-abatement-plan-disease-natural-ecosystems-caused-phytophthora-cinnamomi);
||Treatments are interpreted and carried out responsibly, effectively and
efficiently by suitably qualified, skilled and experienced people or under the
supervision of a suitably qualified, skilled and experienced person;
||All treatments are undertaken in a manner that is responsive to natural
processes and fosters and protects natural recovery. Primary treatments including
substrate and hydrological amendments, pest species control, application of
recovery triggers and biotic reintroductions are adequately followed up by secondary
treatments as required and appropriate aftercare is provided to any planted
||Corrective changes of direction in response to unexpected ecosystem responses
are facilitated in a timely manner and are ecologically informed and documented;
||All projects exercise full compliance with occupational work, health and
safety legislation and all other legislation including that relating to soil,
air, water, oceans, heritage, species and ecosystem conservation (including
that all permits required are in place); and
||All project operatives communicate regularly with key stakeholders (or
as required by funding bodies) to keep them appraised of progress.
||MONITORING, DOCUMENTATION, EVALUATION AND REPORTING.
Ecological restoration projects adopt the principle
of observing, recording and monitoring treatments and responses to the treatments
in order to inform changes and different approaches for future work. They
regularly assess and analyse progress to adapt treatments (adaptive management)
as required. Partnerships with research bodies are sought in cases where
innovative treatments or treatments applied at a large scale are being trialled
and to ensure all necessary research permits and ethical considerations
are in place.
||Monitoring begins at the planning stage with the development of a monitoring
plan to identify success or otherwise of the treatments (See also Boxes 3 and
||Monitoring is geared to specific targets and measurable
goals and objectives identified at the start of the project and include:
- Collection of data prior to works and at appropriate intervals (e.g.
at higher frequency early in the recovery phase) to identify whether objectives,
goals and targets are being attained; and
- Collecting data on work sessions, specific treatments and approximate costs.
||A minimum standard of monitoring for small, volunteer projects is the
use of photo points, along with species lists and condition descriptions. (Note
that photographic and formal quantitative 'before and after'; monitoring
is ideally undertaken not only at the restored site but also at untreated areas
and any actual reference site.)
||Projects also monitor the
performance of the recovery using pre-identified indicators consistent with the
objectives. In provessional or larger projects this is ideally carried out through formal quantitative sampling methods supported by
a condition assessment (taking account of any regionally appropriate benchmarking
||Sampling units must be an appropriate size for the attributes measured
and should be replicated sufficiently within the site.
||Adequate records of treatments and all monitoring are maintained to enable
||Consideration should be given to lodging data with open access databases
such as the Atlas of Living Australia http://www.ala.org.au and the Terrestrial Ecosystem
Research Network (TERN) http://portal.tern.org.au/.
||Secure records of the provenance (i.e. source) of any re-introduced plants
or animals are held by the project managers. These records should include location
(preferably GPS-derived) and description of donor and receiving sites, reference
to collection protocols, date of acquisition, identification procedures and
||Evaluation and documentation of the outcomes of the works is carried out,
with progress assessed against the targets, goals and objectives of the project
(i.e. reference conditions).
||Evaluation can use any system that adequately assesses results from the
||Results are used to inform ongoing management.
||Reporting involves preparation and dissemination of progress reports to
key stakeholders and broader interest groups (newsletters and journals) to convey
outputs and outcomes as they become available.
||Reporting can use any system that conveys the information in an accurate
and accessible way, customised to the audience.
||Reporting must clarify the level and details of monitoring upon which
any evaluation of success or otherwise has been based.
||The management body is responsible for ongoing maintenance to prevent deleterious impacts
and carries out any required monitoring of the site after completion of the
project to ensure that the site does not regress into a degraded state. Comparison
with an appropriate reference ecosystem will be ongoing.