Motivation for ecological research projects

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This week’s featured research article has just been published in Restoration Ecology and examines the diverse environmental and social reasons that motivate ecological restoration projects in Australia. The researchers surveyed 307 people involved in the restoration of native vegetation across Australia to identify their underlying motivations. They also elicited information on planning, implementation, and monitoring of restoration projects. The study found that biodiversity enhancement is the main motivation for undertaking restoration, with biodiversity offsetting, water quality improvements, and social reasons as important secondary motivations. Motivations varied significantly by stakeholder type and region. Restoration projects primarily motivated by ecosystem service provision (e.g. water quality improvements and social reasons) sought less pristine ecological outcomes than projects motivated by biodiversity enhancement or offsetting. Rigorous monitoring designs (e.g. quantitative, repeatable surveys, and use of performance indicators) were rarely used in restoration projects, except for projects motivated by scientific research. The study states that better alignment of different restoration motivations with the planning and monitoring of restoration projects should deliver greater benefits through setting appropriate objectives and evaluating outcomes against these objectives. These improvements will increase the capacity of the restoration practice to meet international biodiversity commitments and communicate restoration outcomes to stakeholders. The article can be downloaded here.