Our great challenge is to restore ancient ecological communities that were stable and resilient habitats of many plants and animals for well over twenty million years until they were cleared, often many times, during the last century.
Restoring these degraded rainforest landscapes to anything like their original state, even if that is possible under greatly changed conditions, is much more than simply letting nature take its course or planting and weeding then hoping for the best. To intervene unnecessarily can be costly, potentially risking failure. Not to act when action is required is definitely risking failure. Knowing when and when not to act becomes crucial. A scientific approach becomes essential.
To restore damaged landscapes, one needs to try to understand how the original ecosystem works, the history of disturbance that led to the current state, and the nature of damage done not just to the vegetation, individual species and their habitats but to the physical environment and all the complex interactions between components as well (Hobbs 2007).
Our science strategy sets out
clear goals to measure progress against, consistent with internationally recognised requirements for achieving ecologically resistant and resilient communities,
conceptual ecological models that will help us detect, predict and adaptively manage possible regime changes to favour restoration,
the design principles for field studies enabling resilience concepts to be addressed,
specific research and monitoring programs including wireless sensor networks to gather vital information at ecologically meaningful scales,
protocols for monitoring, evaluation, review and improvement of the whole ecological restoration strategy,
the scientists actively involved or guiding the strategy, and
protocols for reporting of results both in-house and for peer review.
Our Ecological Conceptual Model
Miller, J.R. and Hobbs, R.J. (2007) Habitat restoration — Do we know what we’re doing? Restoration Ecology 15, 382–390.
Australian Rainforest Conservation Society Inc PO Box 2111, Milton QLD 4064, Australia
telephone: 61 7 3368 1318 email: email@example.com