Talk From plan to practice in development projects: ecological restoration in the mitigation hierarchy framework

Development projects, like roads and other infrastructure, cause heavy pressure on land and ecosystems, and habitat degradation is today the most severe threat to global biodiversity. In the future, developers will meet increased legal, economic and moral pressure to reduce and minimize negative impacts from their activity on landscapes, ecosystems and species. Ecological restoration in recent years has got large attention globally as one important activity to change this trend. In the mitigation hierarchy framework this becomes apparent, as the contribution from ecological restoration is essential to achieve real mitigation in all steps of the hierarchy.

To minimize negative impacts in new development projects all stages of the mitigation hierarchy must be involved (avoidance, minimization, restoration and compensation.  Development projects involve a range of stakeholders, professions, and planning systems, and mitigation is about combining these. Examples of contribution from restoration can be by describing ecological status before and after, formulate goals, suggesting restoration techniques (from the restoration toolbox), involve the actors to bring up all relevant knowledge, establish relevant systems for documentation and monitoring. Successful ecological restoration is based on a sound integration of science, society and technology, and applying this understanding into new development projects this both essential and novel.

In this presentation, we will illustrate how such integration can be done in the field for real development project, and present a structured model for cooperation between planners, project owners, ecologists, entrepreneurs and machine drivers. We will demonstrate how local knowledge, practical experience, in combination with scientific knowledge has improved different categories of projects, including hydropower plants, roads, and urban development. Based on observations from real projects we will discuss and suggest how these field-based experiences can improve future projects and contribute through all parts of the mitigation hierarchy.

We conclude that an integrated approach, including different categories of knowledge, can contribute to reduce negative impacts on nature values in development projects. However, this call for improved procedures for documentation and monitoring that will allow for exchange of experiences between projects and sectors.

cooperation, ecological restoration, local knowledge, mitigation, practical experience, science