SECTION 5. GLOSSARY OF TERMS
The terms defined here are specific to the National
Standards and pertain to Australian conditions and species.
Abiotic - non-living materials and conditions within
a given ecosystem, including soil, rock, dead wood, litter or aqueous
substrate, the atmosphere, weather and climate, topographic relief and
aspect, the nutrient regime, hydrological regime, fire regime and salinity
Adaptive management - a sophisticated form of ‘trial
and error’. Using the currently best available knowledge, skills
and technology an action is implemented and outcomes recorded including
success, failures and potential for improvement. These learnings form
the basis of the next round of decision making and trialling in a process
of continuous improvement.
Approach (to restoration) - the category of treatment
(i.e. natural regeneration, assisted regeneration or reconstruction).
Assisted regeneration - the practice of fostering natural
regeneration and recolonization after actively removing ecological impediments
(e.g. fish barriers, invasive species) and reinstating appropriate abiotic
and biotic states (e.g. environmental flows, fire regimes). While generally
this approach is typical of sites of low to intermediate degradation,
even some very highly degraded sites have proven capable of natural recovery
given appropriate treatment and sufficient time frames.
Attributes, of an ecosystem
- the biotic and abiotic properties and functions of an ecosystem (in
this document referred to as including absence of threats, physical conditions,
species composition, community structure, ecosystem function, and external
Barriers (to recovery) - factors impeding recovery of
an ecosystem attribute.
Biotic, biota - the living components of an ecosystem,
including living animals and plants, fungi, bacteria and other forms of
life (microscopic to large).
Carbon sequestration - the capture and long-term storage
of atmospheric carbon dioxide (typically in biomass by way of photosynthesis
and tree growth) to reduce the impacts of climate change.
Climate envelope - the climatic range in which a species
currently exists. With climate change, such envelopes are likely to shift
towards the poles or higher elevations. However, as precipitation is likely
to change in less predictable ways, it is likely that the displacement
of climate envelopes will be more complex.
Community structure - the physical organisation of biotic
and abiotic elements in a community. This refers to the degree of layering
and spatial patchiness in an ecosystem; whether of substrates (e.g rocks,
coral or shell reefs, woody debris) or organisms (e.g. trees, shrubs,
ground layer vegetation). This enables the development of complexity of
habitats and functions
Composition (of an ecosystem) - the array of organisms
within an ecosystem.
Construction - methods involved in engineering permanent
or temporary components that did not occur previously at that site, as
distinct from reconstruction.
Conversion - shift to an alternative local indigenous
ecosystem (whether through construction or natural regeneration approaches)
where current conditions are so degraded that they are no longer suitable
for the pre-existing ecosystem and a different, local occurring ecosystem
is the best alternative. (Note: This refers to shifts in whole communities
rather than in an individual species). Elsewhere, the terms 'creation'
or 'fabrication' have been used to describe this.
Creation - see 'conversion'.
Cultural ecosystem - some ecosystems (e.g. agro-ecosystems)
in which local indigenous species have been substantially transformed
by humans well beyond natural analogues (e.g. agro-ecosystems). These
may become the subject of ecological restoration or may be conserved as
Cycling - ecological cycles include the movement of resources
such as water, carbon, nitrogen, and other elements that are fundamental
to all other ecosystem functions.
Damage (to ecosystem) - a substantial level of impact, generally from a single disturbance event.
Degradation (of an ecosystem) - a persistent decline
in the structure, function and composition of an ecosystem compared to
its former state, generally from frequent or persistent impacts.
Destruction (of an ecosystem) - complete removal or depletion
of an ecosystem.
Ecological maintenance - ongoing activities intended
to counteract processes of ecological degradation
to sustain the attributes of an ecosystem. This maintenance phase is distinguished from the restoration phase that precedes it. Higher ongoing maintenance is likely to be required at restored sites where higher levels of threats continue, compared to sites where threats have been controlled.
Ecological restoration - the process of assisting the
recovery of an ecosystem that has been degraded, damaged or destroyed.
(Note: Single species restoration can be considered complementary and
an important component of ecological restoration.)
Ecosystem - small or large scale
assemblage of biotic and abiotic components in oceans, rivers and on land
in which the components interact to form complex food webs, nutrient cycles
and energy flows. The term ‘ecosystem’ is used in the Standards
to describe an ecological community of any size or scale.
Ecosystem attributes - (see Attributes)
Ecosystem services - are the benefits to humans provided
by ecosystems. They include the production of clean soil, water and air,
the moderation of climate and disease, nutrient cycling and pollination,
the provisioning of a range of goods useful to humans and potential for
the satisfaction of aesthetic, recreation and other human values. Restoration
targets may specifically refer to the reinstatement of particular ecosystem
External repair - any intentional activity - including
mitigation, rehabilitation and ecological restoration - that improves
ecosystem functionality, ecosystem services, or biodiversity.
External exchanges - the 2-way flows that occur between
elements in the landscape or aquatic environment including flows of energy,
water, fire, genetic material, animals and seeds. Exchanges are facilitated
by habitat linkages.
Fabrication - see ‘conversion’).
Five-star (5-star) recovery - a semi-quantitative rating
system based on biotic and abiotic factors that provides comparative assessment
of how well the attributes of an ecosystem are recovering after treatment.
(Note, it is not a rating of the restoration works but of the recovery
Full recovery - the state whereby all ecosystem attributes
are on a secure trajectory to closely resemble those of the reference
Functions of an ecosystem - the collective term for the
roles and processes that arise from interactions among living and non-living
components of ecosystems. Examples include nutrient cycling and sequestration
(through biomass accumulation, food production, herbivory, predation and
decomposition), water filtration and cycling, soil formation, succession,
disturbance regimes (fire, flooding and drying), water filtration and
storage, provision of habitat, predation, dispersal, pollination, reproduction,
disturbance and resilience.
Gene flows - flows of seed or pollen between individual
organisms that maintains the genetic diversity of a species’ population.
In nature, gene flow can be limited by dispersal distances of vectors
and by topographic barriers such as mountains and rivers. In fragmented
habitats it can be limited by the separation of remnants caused by clearing.
Germplasm - the various regenerative materials (e.g.
seeds, vegetative materials) that provide a source of genetic material
for future populations.
Indicators of recovery - characteristics of an ecosystem
that a manager identifies as being suitable for measuring the progress
of restoration goals or objectives at a particular site (e.g. measures
of biotic or abiotic components of the ecosystem).
Landscape flows - external exchanges that occur at a
level larger than the site (including marine and freshwater areas) and
including flows of energy, water, fire, genetic material, animals and
seeds. Exchanges are facilitated by habitat linkages.
Local indigenous ecosystem - an ecosystem comprising
species or subspecies (excluding invasive non-indigenous species) that
are either known to have evolved locally or have recently migrated from
neighbouring localities due to changing climates. Where local evidence
is lacking, regional or historical information can help inform the most
probable local indigenous ecosystems. While many ecosystems we consider
natural have been modified in extent and configuration (e.g. through burning
by Indigenous peoples), the term used to describe ecosystems in which
local indigenous species have been substantially transformed by humans
well beyond natural analogues (e.g. agro-ecosystems) is ‘cultural
Management (of an ecosystem) - a broad categorisation
that can include maintenance and repair of ecosystems (including restoration).
Mandatory restoration - restoration that is required
(mandated) by government, court of law or statutory authority.
Mitigation - any activity of reducing impacts - in this
Standards particularly referring to works to protect ecosystem from impacts
arising from human settlement and production.
Natural regeneration - Recovery or recruitment of species
from a germination or resprouting event. A ‘natural regeneration’
approach to restoration relies on spontaneous or unassisted natural regeneration
as distinct from an ‘assisted natural regeneration’ approach
that depends upon active intervention.
Non-mandatory restoration - restoration that is voluntary
rather than required (mandated) by a government, regulatory authority
or court of law.
Over utilization - any form of harvesting or exploitation
of an ecosystem beyond its capacity to regenerate those resources (including
over-fishing, over-clearing, over-grazing, over-burning etc.).
Primary treatment - the first treatment of a site (e.g.
removal of standing weed biomass), after which there will be subsequent
follow-up treatments referred to as ‘secondary treatments’.
Productivity - the rate of generation of biomass in an
ecosystem, contributed to by the growth and reproduction of plants and
Provenance - source (location) from which seed or other
germplasm is derived.
Reconstruction - a restoration approach where the appropriate
biota need to be entirely or almost entirely reintroduced as they cannot
regenerate or recolonise within feasible timeframes, even after expert
assisted regeneration interventions.
Recovery - the process of an ecosystem regaining its
composition, structure and function relative to the levels identified
for the reference ecosystem. As this can occur in full or in part, this
term can apply to both ecological restoration and rehabilitation.
Recruitment - production of a subsequent generation of
organisms. This is measured not by numbers of new organisms alone (e.g.
germinants of plants) but by the number that establish to adulthood in
Reference ecosystem - a real or notional community of
organisms able to act as a model or benchmark for restoration. A reference
ecosystem usually represents a non-degraded version of the ecosystem complete
with its flora, fauna, functions, processes and successional states that
would have existed on the restoration site had degradation, damage or
destruction not occurred but should be adjusted to accommodate changed
or predicted environmental conditions.
Regeneration - see natural regeneration and assisted
Rehabilitation - The process
of reinstating a level of ecosystem functionality on degraded sites where
ecological restoration is not the aspiration, as a means of enabling ongoing
provision of ecosystem goods and services including support of biodiversity.
Resilience - The degree, manner and pace of recovery
after a disturbance or stress, or the potential or capacity for such recovery.
This property is developed by natural selection of a species under conditions
of exposure to the disturbance over evolutionary time scales and enables
a species or population to persist despite disturbance.
Restoration - see also ecological restoration. The term
‘restoration’ is in common usage and can be used singly and
in combination with other words to convey an intent to return something
to a prior condition (e.g. restoring a species, a population or a particular
ecosystem function such as carbon sequestration). Single species restoration
can be considered complementary and an important component of ecological
Restoration project - all works undertaken to achieve
recovery of an ecosystem, from the planning stage, through implementation,
to the point of full recovery. The term 'project' is not used in this
document to refer to a specific limited set of works confined to a contract
or funding round.
Revegetation - establishment, by any means, of plants
on sites (including terrestrial, freshwater and marine areas) that may
or may not involve local or indigenous species.
Secondary treatment - repeated follow-up treatments,
e.g. to control weed, required during the restoration phase after primary
treatment has triggered an ecological response.
Seed production area - a site used for the production
of bulk quantities of high quality seed of known origin, quality and appropriate
genetic diversity for replanting or direct seeding onto restoration and
Self-organising - a state whereby all the necessary elements
are present and the ecosystem’s attributes can continue to develop
towards the reference state without outside assistance. Self organisation
is evidenced by factors such as growth, reproduction, ratios between producers,
herbivores, and predators and niche differentiation - relative to characteristics
of the identified reference ecosystem.
Site - discrete area/location. Can occur at different
scales including patch and larger scales (e.g. landscape or aquatic environments).
Spatial mosaic - patchiness in assemblages of species
often reflecting spatial patterning (in vertical and/or horizontal plane)
due to differences in substrate, topography, hydrology disturbance regimes.
Spatial patterning - see spatial mosaic.
Succession (Ecological) - patterns of change and replacement
occurring within and between ecosystems over time in response to disturbance
or its absence. Some Australian ecosystems (including higher diversity
heath communities) respond to disturbance with all species regenerating
together from the outset, whereas others can assemble gradually over time.
Stratum, strata - layer or layers in an ecosystem; often
referring to vertical layering such as trees, shrubs and herbaceous layers.
Substrate - the soil, sand, rock, debris or water medium
where ecosystems develop.
Structure (of an ecosystem) - the physical organization
of an ecological system both within communities and at a larger scale
(e.g., density, stratification, and distribution of species-populations,
habitat size and complexity, canopy structure, pattern of habitat patches).
Threat - a factor potentially or already causing
degradation, damage or destruction.
Threshold (ecological) - a point at which a small change
in environmental conditions causes a shift in an ecosystem property to
a different ecological state. Once crossed, an ecosystem may not easily
return to its previous state.
Trajectory (ecological) - a pathway of development over time, which can be defined and monitored using sequential measurements of biotic and abiotic ecological parameters.
Transform - shift to a different ecosystem. In this Standard,
specifically referring to an agro-ecosystem or urban ecosystem.
Translocation - the movement of organisms to a different
part of the lands ape or aquatic environment.
Treatment - interventions r actions undertaken to achieve
restoration, such as substrate amendment, exotics control, habitat conditioning,
Trophic levels - levels in food webs, with greater complexity
usually characteristic of a more mature ecosystem.