Effectiveness through standards
Why we need standards
Gondwana Link works through partnering – formally or informally – with the many organizations and individuals who share our vision for an ecologically resilient landscape across south-western Australia. Many different actions can contribute to achieving the vision. We develop standards for the various activities undertaken across Gondwana link, in order to provide clarity on the quality of work needed to achieve agreed ecological outcomes.
One area of need has been the type of plantings needed to be ecologically effective. Many early plantings, undertaken through landcare and other broad programs, are not as effective as they could be and may even cause some harm, by increasing the number of opportunistic species in the landscape, such as crows, Kookaburras, New Holland Honeyeaters and the like, who reduce the habitat niches available for the rarer species.
We are also concerned that some commercial plantings in the broad Gondwana Link area could end up being marketed as ‘part of Gondwana Link’, when their actual benefits are unclear.
We accept that restoration has many facets, and to guide our work have adopted the classification of ecological restoration being ‘an intentional activity that initiates or accelerates the recovery of an ecosystem with respect to its health, integrity and sustainability.’(ref The SER International Primer on Ecological Restoration, published by the Society for Ecological Restoration International (Version 2: October, 2004).
This definition recognises that restoration is a far wider activity than, for example, the planting of a paddock and includes such work as managing fire regimes back to a closer semblance of their original, restoration of original predator prey relationships and so on.
How we help
In 2010 we produced an initial set of restoration standards that help clarify where a particular planting would sit on a spectrum from low to high value. The standards were based on existing international work, particularly through the International Union for Conservation of Nature and the Society for Ecological Restoration.
The standards we have developed in a 26 point check list, which then provides a clear star rating, which is summarised in the table below.
Subsequently we supported and were involved in development, by the Society for Ecological Restoration Australasia, of well accepted National Standards for the Practice of Ecological Restoration in Australia.
In addition, we are supporting work to monitor restoration effectiveness across a number of habitat types through monitoring of functional bird guilds (with the Conservation Council of WA Citizen Science Team) and ‘assessment of measures of restoration success beyond that of population establishment and survival to incorporate the evolutionary processes that provide long-term resilience, persistence and functional integration of restored populations into broader landscapes’ (with University of Western Australia, Botanic Gardens and Parks Authority and Department of Biodiversity and Conservation).
What groups do
The development of any approach to achieving high standard and effective work requires constant feedback from that place known as ‘the real world’. The standards are all open for feedback from groups on what is practical and what works or not.