Gondwana Link – are we there yet?

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James Aronson

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Gondwana Link, a program established in 2002, is focused on achieving transformational restoration of habitats and ecosystem functions across 1000 kilometres of south-western Australia. Much has been achieved that we can be proud of. This ranges from the technical, such as the practical restoration techniques adopted for patch scale replanting in habitat gaps to achieve maximum ecological restoration at minimum cost, through to attempts to restore traditional fire management over millions of hectares. As the program matures, a myriad of projects, often managed quite independently, work loosely together as a cohesive, if not collaborative, effort adding up to meaningful change at scale. Difficulties include building effective cohesion between the different efforts in a funding world built largely on competitive behaviour; the need to raise funds beyond current environmental expenditure levels in Australia; and the challenge of measuring impact at numerous different scales. In this presentation we will set out the three different organisational structures we have worked through so far, test their strengths and weaknesses, and explore the underlying philosophy of change that has underpinned steady growth.  We will also explore how our program straddles a broad spectrum of approaches, incorporating elements of what has been termed ‘novel’ ecosystems and ecosystem service payments, such as for carbon sequestration, through to focused attempts to precisely replicate reference ecosystems.

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Society for Ecological Restoration