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Policy and Practice Update from SER

Friday, March 13, 2020  
Posted by: Alexis Gibson
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This is the Policy & Practice Update from the February issue of SERNews

The Society has been actively engaging with international policy work during the end of 2019 and start of 2020. Our Board Chair, Jim Hallett, has been especially busy. In late 2019, Jim stepped into the role of Vice Chair of the Global Partnership on Forest and Landscape Restoration and led their members meeting in Luxembourg. Additionally, he participated in an invited Global Landscapes Forum meeting focusing on sustainable finance. In January, Jim traveled to Washington, D.C. in partnership with the IUCN Forests Program to meet with the Global Environment Facility and World Bank on financing restoration.

Since the UN declared 2021-2030 the Decade on Ecosystem Restoration, SER has been identifying ways we can influence and participate in the conversation. SER Board of Directors and staff met with the team developing the agenda for the Decade – expect to see the first draft of the plan soon. We are also partnering with the IUCN Forests Programme, the Commission on Ecosystems Management, and its Ecosystem Restoration Thematic Group to develop a UN Decade Pavilion/Exhibit at the World Conservation Congress in Marseilles, France in June. Our hope is that this engagement will raise awareness of SER’s resources and expertise, and promote high quality restoration projects as the benchmark for the Decade.

Our International Principles and Standards for Ecological Restoration were released in September of 2019, and we have been thrilled with the excitement in the community to learn more about them. Since their release, the Standards have been downloaded more than 6,000 times from the SER website and Restoration Ecology. In January, International Policy Lead George Gann gave the first introductory webinar on the updated Standards as part of the monthly SER webinar series, and presented another talk to Parks Canada in early February. Volunteers from the restoration community have come forward to start translating the Standards – in addition to the Chinese translation already available on the SER website, translators are working on Malay, Spanish, Catalan, Portuguese, Ukrainian, Korean, Mongolian, and French. If you are interested in translating the Standards into another language, please contact

Now that the updated Standards are finished, SER is also starting to engage in developing companion documents focused on specific aspects of restoration. The International Network for Seed-based Restoration thematic section of SER has completed and submitted their standards for publication in Restoration Ecology - an early view is currently available on the Restoration Ecology website. We are in the process of developing mining standards with partners in China and Australia, and are in the preliminary stage of developing a standards document for river restoration. Finally, George is reviewing a new coral restoration guide from The Nature Conservancy to identify ways the document aligns with the Standards.

The Science and Policy Committee (SPC) plays an integral role in defining SER’s public positions and maintaining our integrity on scientific and policy positions related to ecological restoration. The SPC is wrapping up their strategic planning process to guide SER’s policy work for the next decade. Ideally this process will be completed and the plan ready for the Board of Directors to approve in March. 


In 2020, SER will enter Phase Two of the Fort Belknap Indian Reservation Native Seed and Grassland Restoration Community Conservation project with the United States Bureau of Land Management (BLM) and the Fort Belknap Tribes of Montana. SER Board member Cristina Eisenberg is the project lead, and the project focuses on working with the Fort Belknap community to engage in grassland restoration and native seed collection to improve wildlife habitat. This project will be guided by Traditional Ecological Knowledge and increases community resiliency and participation in land management through the development of a “Community Fellows Program” focused on providing job and income generating opportunities for the tribes. 

SER is in the process of planning our second North American Continental Conference in partnership with the Canadian Land Reclamation Association and the Society of Wetland Scientists for June 2020 (RE3 – Reclaim, Restore, Rewild). As part of the conference, SER staff is putting together a symposium and Knowledge Café focused on Indigenous and First Nations views and experiences in restoration. Keep an eye out for more information as speakers and themes are finalized.

Following on a training with the Hudson River National Estuarine Research Reserve in 2019, SER is working with the National Park Service in the United States to develop a Standards-based training focused on prairie restoration in the mid-west. We hope to continue to work with organizations to develop these ecosystem-specific trainings and explore the ways the Standards can be applied to planning diverse restoration projects.