SECTION 2 - Six Key Principles of Ecological Restoration Practice
Six key principles are used to provide a
framework for conceptualising, defining and measuring ecological restoration,
particularly at a time of rapid environmental change. (See also Appendix
2 Values and principles underpinning ecological restoration.)
Principle 6. Social aspects are critical to successful
Restoration is carried out to satisfy not only conservation values but also socioeconomic values, including cultural ones. Without considering these values, particularly relationships between a site and its stakeholders, a restoration project may not gain the social support needed for success and may fail to deliver important benefits to ecosystems and to society.
Few ecosystems are without human influence -
whether positive or negative. Some human-induced disturbance regimes are
intrinsic to the structure and function of a local indigenous ecosystem
(e.g. Indigenous fire management regimes that have long exposed sites to fire or protected
them from it); while others can progressively erode ecosystems or shift
them to cultural ecosystems. This means that values and behaviours of
humans (whether positive or negative) will dictate the future of ecosystems.
Conserving and restoring ecosystems therefore depends upon appreciation
by society of the negative and positive effects of different behaviours;
and involvement by all stakeholders in finding solutions to ensure that
ecosystems and society mutually prosper.
Examples of community engagement.
The practical implications for restoration are that restoration planners
and project managers need to genuinely and actively engage with those
who live or work within or near a site to be restored, as well as with
others who have a stake in the area’s goods, services or values.
This needs to occur at the outset of and throughout a restoration project.
Not only will a restoration project be more secure if genuine dialogue
occurs between managers and stakeholders, but also this dialogue –
coupled with education about the ecosystem - can increase the level of
practical collaboration, facilitating solutions best suited to local ecosystems
Examples of river restoration
- demonstration reaches in the Murray-Darling Basin.
Education and engagement is often best achieved by actively involving
adequately supervised stakeholders in paid or voluntary work – both
having a positive effect in stakeholder communities. Restoration work
has demonstrated a potential to generate direct and indirect employment
opportunities in many regions. This is particularly beneficial in rural
or remote regions where other industries and gainful employment are declining
or are marginal - including in remote areas owned and managed by
Indigenous groups who are employed to provide ecosystem services (e.g.
carbon abatement or habitat restoration) for which society is prepared to pay.
Examples of Indigenous people's land and sea management - restoring both nature and culture.
Where projects involve community volunteers, restoration activity can
serve to educate participants and create improved social outcomes including
community cohesion and individual welfare
Social engagement, interpretation and education regarding the benefits
of restoration to stakeholders are therefore essential components of a
restoration project and need to be planned and resourced alongside the
physical or biological project components. This investment is likely to
be rewarded manyfold with increased awareness and understanding of problems
and potential solutions by members of society who may have the strongest
‘say’ in the future of an area when funding programs and individual
champions have come and gone.