Partnership has become the leitmotif of 21st century nature conservation. The scale of the challenge, the growing expectation of community participation and social license, and the costs of long-term maintenance and monitoring, necessitate that restoration of damaged and degraded environments more than ever be a team effort.
Academics are understandably preoccupied with answering basic questions about how nature works, including the relationship between patterns and process. Every decade or so, new concepts emerge from ecological studies that help to explain complex phenomena with direct application to practical restoration. Such ideas include “trophic cascades”, where the removal of one key species can have cascading effects through the food chain with counter-intuitive results that had previously been difficult to understand or predict.
Environmental managers face more mundane day-to-day tasks, and rarely have the luxury of setting up experiments to answer questions. But ever since the philosophy of adaptive management emerged from studies of North American fisheries and forestry in the 1980s, the value of partnerships between researchers and managers has been obvious. However, it has often been unattainable because of barriers to interdisciplinary collaborations, old-fashioned laws and policies, funding gaps, and other factors.
The “Restoration Dialogues” conference held in Hobart, Tasmania in November 2015 brought managers and researchers together to discuss these issues, and identify best practices and guiding principles from an array of case studies. The conference organisers, Professors Ted Lefroy and Benjamin J. Richardson of the University of Tasmania, Australia, paired researchers with managers working in related areas, in many cases bringing stakeholders together for the first time. A broad range of restoration topics was covered including control of introduced predators, participation of Aboriginal landowners in conservation planning, new technologies for fostering community engagement, and legal governance of long-term restoration projects.
While it is difficult to translate success in one project to others because of differences in their contexts, “Restoration Dialogues” identified and evaluated several ingredients for success including new financial partnerships with philanthropic and commercial actors, bottom-up rather than top-down governance strategies, integrating traditional Aboriginal knowledge in environmental stewardship, and harnessing the power of nature’s own mechanisms to restore itself.
Restoration dialogues: improving the governance of ecological restoration;
Benjamin J. Richardson; Ted Lefroy: First Published 3 June 2016 | DOI: 10.1111/rec.12391
About Restoration Ecology Restoration Ecology is the Society’s bi-monthly scientific and technical peer-reviewed journal published Edited by a distinguished international panel, the journal addresses global concerns and communicates them to researchers and practitioners throughout the world
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