1995 Midwest Oak Savanna and Woodland Ecosystems Conferences
The following policies have been adopted by the Board of Directors of the
Society for Ecological Restoration. They are included here for consideration
during the restoration planning process.
I. Restoration Plans
The Society for Ecological Restoration advises that plans for restoration
projects should contain, at a minimum, the following items:
- A baseline ecological description of the kind of ecosystem
designated for restoration, which accounts for the regional expression
of that ecosystem in terms of the biota and poignant features of the abiotic
- An evaluation of how the proposed restoration will integrate
with other components of the regional landscape, especially those aspects
of the landscape that may affect the long term sustainability of the restored
- Explicit plans and schedules for all on-site preparation
and installation activities, including plans for contingencies.
- Well developed and explicitly stated performance standards,
by which the project can be evaluated objectively.
- Monitoring protocols by which the performance standards can
- Provision for the procurement of suitable planting stocks
and for supervision to guarantee their proper installation.
- Procedures to expedite promptly any needed post-installation.
II. Exotic Species at Restoration
An exotic species (or lesser taxon) of plant or animal is one that was
introduced, either intentionally or unintentionally, by human endeavor
into a locality where it previously did not occur. The invasiveness of
exotic species of plants and animals challenges a basic goal of ecological
restorationists to recreate environments like those that existed prior
to widespread human disturbance. Ideally, a restoration project should
consist entirely of indigenous species. In order to meet this goal for
virtually all restoration projects, the control of exotic species will
require ongoing management, monitoring and evaluation. To that end, the
Society for Ecological Restoration recommends that the following principals
be followed during the planning, implementation, and evaluation of restoration
projects and programs.
- The control of exotic species should be an integral component
of all restoration projects and programs.
- Monitoring of exotics and periodic reassessment of their control
should be integrated into all restoration plans and programs.
- Highest priority should be given to the control of those species
that pose the greatest threats, namely:
Restoration plans and management programs should include contingencies
for removing exotics as they first appear and for implementing new control
methods as they become available.
Control programs should cause the least possible disturbance
to indigenous species and communities and, for this reason, may be phased
The restoration and management program must, of necessity,
be strategic. Protection of indigenous habitats, levels of infestation,
appropriate resource allocation, and knowledge of control methods should
be integrated into the monitoring and management program.
Exotic species should not be introduced to the site in the
Native species should also be evaluated for their potential
threat to indigenous communities. Weedy native species should be avoided
in restoration plans as well as native planting stocks representing non-indigenous
Exotics that replace indigenous key (keystone) species.
Exotics that substantially reduce indigenous species diversity, particularly
with respect to the species richness and abundance of conservative species.
Exotics that significantly alter ecosystem of community structure or functions.
Exotics that persist indefinitely as sizable sexually reproducing or clonally
Exotics that are very mobile and/or expanding locally.
III. Integration of Ecological
Restoration into a Larger Project.
Ecological restoration is sometimes only one of many elements within large
enterprises, such as regional development projects and resource management
programs. Managers of these larger undertakings should be aware of the
complexities involved in planning and implementing ecological restoration
and of the cost savings that are realized by careful coordination of restoration
activities with other pursuits. For these reasons, the Society encourages
managers of larger projects to adopt the following recommendations:
- Ecological restoration should be integrated into development
projects and implemented in cooperation with all members of the development
- Project managers should agree in advance that ecological restoration
is a major component of an overall development project, and that the restoration
team shall be given equal status with other key project personnel.
- Project managers should ensure that key personnel avoid advocacy
and work together to achieve a consensus on decisions.
- A cooperative decision-making process should be agreed upon
in advance by key personnel and used to build a consensus on decisions.
- Definitions and policies of the Society for Ecological Restoration
should be utilized in the consensus making process.
- Cooperative decision-making should include the following steps:
- Develop feasible and effective alternatives for remediating
- Include stakeholders (i.e., people who are affected by the
alternatives) in the process of anticipating the potential adverse social
and ecological consequences of alternatives;
- Modify the alternatives as necessary to mitigate potential
adverse consequences prior to implementation;
- Build a consensus among key personnel and stakeholders on
a preferred alternative.
IV. Regional Ecotypes
The Society for Ecological Restoration advocates the planting of regional
ecotypes at restoration project sites to assure fitness of planting stock
and to preserve genetic integrity in local species populations, especially
for species verging upon local extirpation. The procurement of suitable
planting stocks should not jeopardize existing populations of rare taxa.
V. Landscape Interactions
The Society for Ecological Restoration recognizes that regional landscapes
frequently contain two or more interacting ecosystems. For example, hydrologic
transfer from upland ecosystems determines water quality, quantity, and
rate of discharge into wetland ecosystems. Therefore, landscape functions
and limitations should be considered in planning restoration projects.
VI. Local Stewardship
The Society for Ecological Restoration advises that restoration plans should
be keenly sensitive to local concerns. Local acceptance and assistance
should be solicited in the planning process, because, among other reasons,
local residents will likely serve as stewards of the restored ecosystem.