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The need for a practical scientific protocol to measure successful restoration

Authors:

M G Chapman ,

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Centre for Research and Ecological Impacts of Coastal Cities. Marine Ecology Laboratories A11, University of Sydney NSW 2006.
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A J Underwood

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Centre for Research and Ecological Impacts of Coastal Cities. Marine Ecology Laboratories A11, University of Sydney NSW 2006.
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Abstract

Restoration of habitat is of increasing importance in the modern world as more of the remaining patches of natural habitats become degraded. Restoration is seen as an important way of reversing the trend. Although restoration is part of ecology and therefore could properly be considered a scientific discipline, scientific methodology and current ecological knowledge are missing from many restoration programmes. In Australia, much money and resources are wasted in on-the-ground projects which are poorly designed and seldom evaluated. There is a great need to bring a rigorous scientific protocol into programmes of restoration. Many programmes of restoration are poor because the logical connection between the aims of the programme and the means and assessment of restoration are lost. Here, we discuss the advantages of treating restoration as a test designed to falsify a null hypothesis within the scientific protocol used successfully in other branches of ecology. The aims of restoration, which are often expressed in rather general terms, usually include several steps in this protocol (the observations, models and hypotheses). Clearly separating these in logic is shown to lead to more realistic definitions and goals of restoration and more rigorous ways of assessing the success of these. Finally, we discuss recent advances in methodologies for detecting environmental impacts. These are potentially extremely useful for the measurement and evaluation of restoration, but they are not being incorporated into many programmes of restoration. Restoration must be treated as more of a scientific discipline if it is to progress and cease to be unaccountable.
How to Cite: Chapman, M.G. and Underwood, A.J., 2010. The need for a practical scientific protocol to measure successful restoration. Wetlands Australia, 19(1), pp.28–49. DOI: http://doi.org/10.31646/wa.243
Published on 23 Jan 2010.
Peer Reviewed

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