Assessing, with limited resources, the contribution of wetland restoration to ecosystem services supply

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Douglas Macfarlane

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Resources for evaluating the ecological outcomes of investments in ecological restoration are often limited. In order to rapidly assess the contribution of wetland restoration to the functionality of a wetland for supplying ecosystem services, a method has been developed based on the WET-EcoServices method. A set of indicators (e.g. hydraulic roughness of the vegetation) are rated on a five-point scale. Indicator scores are then combined in an algorithm that attempts to reflect the relative importance and interactions of the attributes represented by the indicators. In addition, the extent of the affected wetland area is recorded. Furthermore, supply is placed in the context of the demand for the ecosystem services, based on the number of beneficiaries and their level of dependency. Thus, the greater the increase in functionality over the wetland area for which there is a high demand for the ecosystem services, the greater will be the contribution of wetland rehabilitation in terms of ecosystem services. This provides a currency for comparing different wetland rehabilitation sites or scenarios within a site.  Application of the method is illustrated by comparing five different wetland restoration sites in South Africa’s Working for Wetlands program, encompassing a diversity of land use contexts. At some sites the contribution to supply was much greater both in terms of the spatial extent of the wetland and the level to which the functionality of the positively affected area had been raised. However, this was often not accompanied by a correspondingly greater demand for the services at the site.

Resource Type:
Audio/Video, Conference Presentation, SER2019

Society for Ecological Restoration