Allocating funds among restoration actions

A NERP* Workshop, (Bris, Sept 2014)

*This was a joint workshop between the NERP Tropical Ecosystems Hub and the NERP Environmental Decisions Hubs. 

Young biodiverse planting in the Australian wet tropics uplands. How can

Young biodiverse planting in the Australian wet tropics uplands. How can restoration be cost-effectively scaled up to the landscape level?

A major emerging task for biodiversity conservation is to ‘scale-up’ the restoration of degraded land from the local patch to the scale of the landscape (regional). This poses significant challenges for prioritising investments, most notably because: (a) restoring native vegetation involves considerable uncertainty and time lags over at least several decades; and (b) restoration typically involves a range of different potential actions, each with its own costs, time frame and likelihood of success.

In this workshop we aimed to directly address the tension between minimizing shortfall risk (not achieving desired targets) and maximizing return on investment in the context of resource allocation for restoration. The ultimate goal of this work will be to establish a conceptual basis for resolving more complex situations including multiple types of actions and use this to inform investment decisions across a range of regional management contexts and different ecosystems.

We initially explored the problem with specific reference to rainforest restoration, for which relatively good relevant data and contextual information are available. This included recent investigations led by Carla Catterall (Griffith University) and Luke Shoo in a NERP Tropical Ecosystems project (12.2 – see which has provided valuable insights into time lags, and uncertainty of recovery for a range of vegetation characteristics between self-organised forest regrowth and biodiverse plantings, in the Australian wet tropics uplands.

To address the issues of restoration decision making and resource allocation, Shoo and Catterall together with Kerrie Wilson have established a research collaboration between two NERP hubs (Tropical Ecosystems and Environmental Decisions). The resultant workshop brought together a diverse range of experts from different institutions across Australia with knowledge of restoration ecology, conservation planning, structured decision making, financial planning, vegetation management and legislation and relevant government policy initiatives (eg, 20 Million Trees Programme, Carbon Farming Initiative). The workshop was attended by representatives of the University of Queensland, Griffith University, CSIRO, Queensland Government’s Department of Science, Information Technology, Innovation and the Arts and the Australian Government’s Department of the Environment.

More info: Luke Shoo 

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