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When planning projects, ecological restoration practitioners aim for the gold standard based on the best available science. In many instances, however, we are confronted with a barrage of challenges including, but not limited to, conflicting interest groups, competing habitat interests, scope/budget challenges, regulatory barriers, funder priorities, historical relationships and public distrust. These challenges often require adjustment to the scientific method and ultimately alter the end project – it all boils down to compromise. In academia, as in our careers, we are trained to focus on science-based procedures that lead to predictable outcomes. As a practitioner with over 10 years of experience I have learned that ecological restoration, while science-based, is much more complex when put into practice. The soft skills required to manage these projects are just as valuable as the science itself. This presentation will explore the complexities of restoration projects, with an emphasis on stream restoration in highly altered, heavily used locations with sensitive habitats in regulated environments. I will reference Southern Ontario case studies, emphasizing the importance of honest communication, ongoing engagement and tactful negotiation to fulfill project goals and satisfy the needs of diverse parties. Establishing a culture where compromise is accepted, and even encouraged, is crucial for creating successful, resilient projects that have long lasting benefits within an entire community.
Conference Presentation, SER2021
Pre-approved for CECs under SER's CERP program