David A. Pyke
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Monitoring Restoration Effectiveness
David A. Pyke, USGS Forest and Rangeland Ecosystem Science Center, Corvallis, Oregon
Restoration in a simple sense is an attempt to adjust an ecosystem’s structural and functional trajectory so it approximates as closely as possible its historical structure and function recognizing the current natural foundations found at the site, the current climate and soils. We often judge the need for restoration of an ecosystem by comparing the deviation of current abiotic and biotic factors to our knowledge of the range of variation in these factors for the climate and soils that once existed on that site. These initial evaluations provide us with an approximation of the objectives we need to set for success. Since most semiarid ecosystems may require decades to begin to reflect their former structure and function, we should set both short-term and long-term objectives for restoration projects. Short-term objectives should define the initial success for establishment of structural components and for the reduction in undesirable conditions. Long-term objectives may describe structural and functional conditions that approximate the desired conditions for the abiotic and biotic components needing to be restored. These objectives should be realistic and quantitative. Restoration projects should be prescribed to meet the conditions of the soils and microclimate of the site, thus monitoring should be stratified to meet those prescriptions. Monitoring techniques should be quantitative, cost effective and should provide data to address the objective. Control locations within the restoration project should be left untreated to determine if the restoration was truly needed and to determine the advantage that restoration projects provide in moving an ecosystem at least towards an objective even if it does not achieve the original objective. Restoration practitioners are encouraged to share their monitoring data by storing it in an archival data warehouse where their results could be queried and retrieved by future practitioners interested in techniques that have worked on similar sites.