Reforming Watershed Restoration: Science in Need of Application and Applications in Need of Science

Palmer, M.A.

Publication Date:

I identify five ways in which our ecological knowledge should be influencing restoration to a far greater extent than at present including a need to: shift the focus to restoration of process and identification of the limiting factors instead of structures and single species, add ecological insurance to all projects, identify a probabilistic range of possible outcomes instead of a reference condition, expand the spatial scale of efforts, and apply hierarchical approaches to prioritization. Prominent examples of restoration methods or approaches that are commonly used despite little evidence to support their efficacy are highlighted such as the use of only structural enhancements to restore biodiversity. There are also major gaps in scientific knowledge that are of immediate need to policy makers, managers, and restoration practitioners including: predictive frameworks to guide the restoration of ecological processes, identification of social-ecological feedbacks that constrain ecosystem recovery and data to support decisions of where and how to implement restoration projects to achieve the largest gains.

Resource Type:
Peer-reviewed Article

Estuaries and Coasts