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Planning for Success: Ecological Restoration and Management Plans

Ecological restoration and management plans provide an array of benefits for restoration projects.

Good ecological restoration practices include having clear targets based on native reference ecosystems with measurable goals and objectives. Ecological restoration and management plans are key tools to document these targets and provide details on a recommended pathway for achieving your project goals.

Plans provide a reference to guide restoration practitioners along their restoration journey and help projects keep on track with their objectives. They can be useful for increasing funding from external grants as they show that projects have been thought through. Plans also provide security that the project can be maintained as key personnel move on and are replaced by

As we grapple with the biodiversity and climate change crises and competing agendas within society, strategic action is critical to ensuring resources are optimised for ecological restoration and a well-developed Ecological Restoration and Management Plan helps to drive strategic action.

Components of Ecological Restoration and Management Plans

Plans are useful tools for guiding ecological restoration projects. They serve as roadmaps, outlining the objectives, key actions, monitoring, and reporting over time. Here are key components typically included in ecological restoration and management plans:

  1. Ecological goals and objectives: Clear and measurable goals are established for each restoration project. These could include:
    • The restoration of a specific vegetation type
    • A population increase of certain animal species
    • Reintroduction of endangered species
    • Improvements of ecosystem services
    • Improvement in water quality
  2. Site description and baseline conditions: Before initiating any restoration project, assessments are undertaken to identify the current state and condition of the site. Depending on the goals and requirements of the project, an assessment may be a simple site walkover making observations of the current state of the site or it may include robust surveying of soils, hydrology, vegetation, and animals. This information forms the basis for developing a tailored restoration strategy.
  3. Site maps: Site maps are useful tools for visually displaying spatial information about a site. Common maps include:
    • The distribution of current vegetation
    • The current ecosystem condition
    • Target vegetation type distribution
    • Management zones
  4. Site photos: Photos are a key source of information for documenting the condition of sites over time. A picture says a thousand words and ‘before’ photos provide baseline data that can be used to assess changes at a site over time.
  5. Management actions: Plans will describe recommended restorative actions to guide the site in the desired direction. Recommendations are strategically tailored to the specific conditions of each site and typically cover vegetation, animals, education, and recreation. Common actions include:
    • Fencing – necessary if the surrounding land use includes stocking animals e.g. beef, sheep or dairy farming. Fencing should be to a standard necessary to ensure stock are kept out of restoration sites as an intrusion by stock can do a lot of damage within hours.
    • Weed management – what are the key weeds on site, how can they be managed, and how long will it take to manage them i.e. what resources will be needed to manage them.
    • Native planting and maintenance – what species to plant where and when, recommended spacings, a maintenance programme, and resources required.
    • Pest animal control – what do we want to protect, what animals do we need to control to protect it from, how to control pest animals, and what resources are required.
    • Track construction and signage – planned access and recreational tracks through, what signage is needed or wanted.
  6. Stakeholder engagement: Involving local communities, iwi, government agencies, and other stakeholders is a key component of most ecological restoration projects. Their input, support, and participation can contribute to the long-term success of the restoration efforts.
  7. Monitoring, reporting, and adaptive management: Ongoing monitoring of the site is essential to track progress against the project’s goals, identify new threats and challenges, or identify unexpected outcomes. Adaptive management allows for adjustments to the restoration plan based on ongoing observations, experiences, and resource availability.
  8. Timeline/programme of works: A programme of works guides what needs to be done when and helps with the planning of logistics and resources. It also helps to set expectations of timeframes for improvements and ongoing resourcing needs.

Tītoki Landcare has provided clients with restoration and biodiversity management plans for a wide range of needs. Examples include:

  • Required management plans for resource consent conditions for bat, bird, and/or lizard management.
  • Councils wanting some guidance for their operational teams and the management of public reserves.
  • Private landowners wanting a simple guiding document to lead them on their restoration journey.
  • Community groups want guidance for their restoration projects.

If you have any questions around ecological restoration and management plans, feel free to get in touch with us today to discuss.