The Society for Ecological Restoration Australasia (SERA) is working with 12 restoration non-profit groups to develop and disseminate a set of national Standards for the practice of ecological restoration in Australia.
It is currently still in draft form, open to public comment. It is hoped that the Standards, including an illustrated online version, will be published in early 2016.
Based on the foundational concepts in the SER Primer, the draft standards seek to resolve a number of issues that have arisen in the last decade, namely the need to reaffirm the place of restoration in a changing and uncertain world, positively acknowledge other forms of environmental repair, and enable maximum inclusivity of practitioners without lowering standards for restoration.
Mechanisms used to resolve these issues include defining ecological restoration as distinct from rehabilitation – but honoring the latter where the work is the highest and best work currently possible. Encouragement is given to managing landscapes and seascapes in an integrated way to reduce impacts of production areas on natural areas and increase the health of semi-natural and natural areas to the extent possible.
The Standards enable a project to call itself an ‘ecological restoration’ project if it is (i) modeled on a locally indigenous ‘reference ecosystem’ (real or derived) and (ii) the long-term goal is full recovery of that ecosystem’s attributes (even if it takes many generations to get there). If the goal can only be to reinstate just some of the attributes, then the project would be called ‘rehabilitation’.
[Phone photo of former mining area near Katoomba, NSW, Australia by Storm Cunningham]