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1995 Midwest Oak Savanna and Woodland Ecosystems Conferences


Appendix C

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:

  1. 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 environment. 
  2. 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 ecosystem. 
  3. Explicit plans and schedules for all on-site preparation and installation activities, including plans for contingencies. 
  4. Well developed and explicitly stated performance standards, by which the project can be evaluated objectively. 
  5. Monitoring protocols by which the performance standards can be measured. 
  6. Provision for the procurement of suitable planting stocks and for supervision to guarantee their proper installation. 
  7. Procedures to expedite promptly any needed post-installation. 

II. Exotic Species at Restoration Sites

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.

  1. The control of exotic species should be an integral component of all restoration projects and programs.
  2. Monitoring of exotics and periodic reassessment of their control should be integrated into all restoration plans and programs.
  3. Highest priority should be given to the control of those species that pose the greatest threats, namely:
    • 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 spreading populations.
    • Exotics that are very mobile and/or expanding locally.
  4. 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.
  5. Control programs should cause the least possible disturbance to indigenous species and communities and, for this reason, may be phased over time.
  6. 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.
  7. Exotic species should not be introduced to the site in the restoration plan.
  8. 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 ecotypes. 

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:

  1. Ecological restoration should be integrated into development projects and implemented in cooperation with all members of the development team.
  2. 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.
  3. Project managers should ensure that key personnel avoid advocacy and work together to achieve a consensus on decisions.
  4. A cooperative decision-making process should be agreed upon in advance by key personnel and used to build a consensus on decisions.
  5. Definitions and policies of the Society for Ecological Restoration should be utilized in the consensus making process.
  6. Cooperative decision-making should include the following steps:
    1. Develop feasible and effective alternatives for remediating environmental problems; 
    2. 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;
    3. Modify the alternatives as necessary to mitigate potential adverse consequences prior to implementation; 
    4. 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. 


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