Perceptions of Ecological Restoration Success – Practitioners’ Views

Mel Galbraith

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Many ecological restoration projects claim to be successful, however debate over what constitutes ‘success’ in the context of ecological restoration is long-running. In New Zealand local communities commonly collaborate with government agencies in restoration projects, with many taking on responsibilities for project management. Inherent in this approach is a broad range of philosophies, motivations, skills and perceptions of the process aimed at ecological gains. We surveyed restoration practitioners at both community and agency levels to explore the different perceptions of what constitutes restoration success, and how this was measured. We found all stakeholders perceived their projects to be successful, although differences the perception of determinants and measures of success were evident. Agencies with ecological management responsibilities follow systems-level attributes of success although monitoring is often limited to those that are easiest to measure. Community-based practitioners identify with gains in ecosystem structure, but their measurements of success tend to be species focused, possibly because of the ease by which such outcomes can be measured and, especially for New Zealand, focused by widespread publicity about threatened species and impact of invasive species. Although all restoration stakeholders aspire to universal outcomes of improved ecological status, for many community-based participants, social motivation and rewards may be as important as their environmental stewardship intentions. This webinar will highlight the scientific and social duality of modern ecological restoration, using a long-running New Zealand restoration project, Tiritiri Matangi Island, as a case study. Mel Galbraith is a Senior Lecturer in the School of Environmental and Animal Sciences, Unitec Institute of Technology (Auckland, New Zealand), teaching ecology, biodiversity, biosecurity and restoration ecology within an undergraduate applied science degree. His passion for natural history, especially ornithology, has led to a long involvement in many ecological restoration projects and an increasing interest in socio-ecology. He is a member of the Ornithological Society of NZ (Birds New Zealand; currently a council member), New Zealand Ecological Society (past president) and the New Zealand Biosecurity Institute. Mel was awarded a Fulbright New Zealand award in 2013.

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Pre-approved for CECs under SER's CERP program