When is Open-endedness Desirable in Restoration Projects?

Authors

  • Francine M. R. Hughes,

    Corresponding author
    1. Animal and Environment Research Group, Department of Life Sciences, Anglia Ruskin University, East Road, Cambridge CB1 1PT, U.K.
      F. M. R. Hughes, email Francine.hughes@anglia.ac.uk
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  • William M. Adams,

    1. Department of Geography, University of Cambridge, Downing Place, Cambridge CB2 3EN, U.K.
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  • Peter A. Stroh

    1. Animal and Environment Research Group, Department of Life Sciences, Anglia Ruskin University, East Road, Cambridge CB1 1PT, U.K.
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F. M. R. Hughes, email Francine.hughes@anglia.ac.uk

Abstract

A low-intervention approach to restoration that also allows restoration outcomes to be framed as trajectories of ecosystem change can be described as “open-ended” restoration. It is an approach which recognizes that long-term ecosystem behavior involves continual change at small and large spatial and temporal scales. There are a number of situations in which it is appropriate to adopt an open-ended approach to restoration including: in remote and large areas, where ecological limiting factors will be changed by future climates, where antecedent conditions cannot be replicated, where there are novel starting points for restoration, where restoration relies strongly on processes outside the restoration area, in inherently dynamic systems, where costs are high and where the public demands “wildness.” Where this approach is adopted managers need to explain the project and deal with public expectations and public risk. Monitoring biotic and abiotic components of the project are very important as an open-ended approach does not equate to “abandon and ignore it.”

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