National standards for the practice of ecological restoration in Australia

The National Standards for the Practice of Ecological Restoration in Australia have been developed by the SERA board's Principles and Standards Reference group in close collaboration with the following partners and advisors: Australian Association of Bush Regenerators (AABR), Australian Institute of Landscape Architects (AILA), Australian Network for Plant Conservation, (ANPC) Australian Seed Bank Partnership (ASBP), Bush Heritage Australia (BHA) Gondwana Link, Greening Australia (GA), Indigenous Flora and Fauna Association (IFFA), The Nature Conservancy (TNC) (Advisor), Trees For Life (TFL), Trust for Nature Vic (TFN Vic), WetlandCare Australia (WCA).

To access the PDF versions click on the following link: National standards for the practice of ecological restoration in Australia

Executive summary

The contemporary call for restoration comes at a critical point in our planet’s history where human influence is all pervasive. Australia’s long and relatively uninterrupted evolutionary past means the continent possesses ancient soils and exceptionally diverse and unique biota—yet its terrestrial and marine ecosystems carry a more recent legacy of extensive and continuing environmental degradation, particularly in urban, industrial and production landscapes and aquatic environments. Anthropogenic climate change is superimposing further pressure on ecosystems, whose vulnerability to climate change is exacerbated by other causal factors including land clearing, overharvesting, fragmentation, inappropriate management, disease and invasive species. Degradation is so severe in most cases that it will not be overcome without active and ecologically appropriate intervention including reduction of these causal factors and reinstatement of native biodiversity.

The practice of ecological restoration seeks to transform humanity’s role from one where we are the agents of degradation to one where we act as conservators and healers of native ecosystems. It is in this context that the National Standards for the Practice of Ecological Restoration in Australia (the ‘Standards’) has been prepared by the Society for Ecological Restoration Australasia (SERA) in collaboration with its 12 not-for-profit Partner and advisor organisations; all of whom, like SERA, are dedicated to effective conservation management of Australia’s native ecological communities.

This document identifies the need and purpose of ecological restoration and explains its relationship with other forms of environmental repair. The Standards identifies the principles underpinning restoration philosophies and methods, and outlines the steps required to plan, implement, monitor and evaluate a restoration project to increase the likelihood of its success. The Standards are relevant to—and can be interpreted for—a wide spectrum of projects ranging from minimally resourced community projects to large- scale, well-funded industry or government projects.

SERA and its Partners have produced these Standards for adoption by community, industry, regulators/government and land managers (including private landholders and managers of public lands at all levels of government) to raise the standard of restoration and rehabilitation practice across all sectors. The document provides a blueprint of principles and standards that will aid voluntary as well as regulatory organisations in their efforts to encourage, measure and audit ecologically appropriate environmental repair in all land and water ecosystems of Australia.

Ministers forward

Australia’s beautiful native landscapes and our unique biodiversity go to the heart of our national identity. It has never been more important that we rise to the challenge of rebuilding natural environments in the face of bushfires, floods and a changing climate.

As a member of the international High Ambition Coalition for Nature and People, Australia will play a lead role restoring our land, waterways and oceans, increasing the health of our ecosystems and in putting our threatened species on the path to recovery.

The Morrison Government’s new Threatened Species Strategy 2021-2031 underlines the importance of environmental science, informed decision making and the need to adapt and change where necessary.

This will drive our capacity to reduce the pressures on all species and especially those that most need our protection.

Our $200 million investment in bushfire recovery for native species and habitat has demonstrated the complexity of restoring local environments and the importance of strong partnerships with different levels of government, land managers, Traditional Owners, local communities and volunteers.

To conserve Australia’s water, soils, plants, animals and ecosystems, we are strengthening the partnership between western science and the knowledge of First Nations’ peoples.

It is timely, as we enter the United Nations Decade of Ecosystem Restoration, that the Society for Ecological Restoration Australasia (SERA) has produced a revised edition of the National Standards for the Practice of Ecological Restoration in Australia.

This document provides a framework for restoring Australia’s landscapes. It sets out the approaches communities and industry can take to deliver enduring biodiversity benefits for the nation.

Importantly, the updated standards reflect the latest knowledge and tools to measure and audit the restoration of land and water ecosystems across Australia.

Congratulations to the SERA and its partners for updating these standards. I am sure they will help guide those who want to see the best outcomes for our natural environment.

The Hon.
Sussan Ley MP Minister for the Environment
Government of Australia

How to cite

This online version of the Standards should be referred to in the text of any other document as the 'National Restoration Standards'. It should be cited as 'Standards Reference Group SERA (2021) National Standards for the Practice of Ecological Restoration in Australia. Edition 2.2. Society for Ecological Restoration Australasia. Available from URL: Available from URL:

Notes to Edition 2.2.

The document is modified from (and supersedes) all previous editions. The First Edition was the published paper: McDonald T., Jonson, J. and Dixon, K.W. (Eds) (2016) National Standards for the Practice of Ecological Restoration in Australia. Restoration Ecology S1, 1-34. The main modifications since Edition 2.1 consist of clarifications to the five-star evaluation tables, clarification of restoration approaches and reference to the social benefits wheel and Restorative Continuum as published in the Second Edition of the International document published by the Society for Ecological Restoration (SER) the parent body of SERA.: Gann GD, McDonald T, Walder B, Aronson J, Nelson CR, Jonson J, Hallett JG, Eisenberg C, Guariguata MR, Liu J, Hua F, Echeverría C, Gonzales E, Shaw N, Decleer K, Dixon KW (2019) International principles and standards for the practice of ecological restoration. Second edition. Restoration Ecology 27(S1): S1–S46.