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McDougall C, Cole V, Connolly RM (2022) Towards a consolidated and open-science framework for restoration monitoring. Report to the National Environmental Science Program. Griffith University.
While coastal habitat restoration is scaling up rapidly in Australia and covers a range of habitats, monitoring outcomes are generally uncoordinated and inadequately funded, and rarely follow Open Science protocols. This project built upon previous research to synthesise the approaches for monitoring of habitat restoration by combining the knowledge of Australian researchers undertaking monitoring of restoration projects across multiple habitats, with a global literature review.
The survey revealed that, within Australia, most restoration projects aim to restore lost habitat and to improve biodiversity, with the key habitats being seagrass, kelp, coastal wetlands, mangroves, saltmarsh, Melaleucas, shellfish reefs and coral reefs. The variables that are monitored tend to provide measures of ecosystem or habitat function, rely on fieldwork-intensive techniques, and often include citizen scientists. Some projects are implementing new, advanced technologies such as drones with high positional accuracy. Results also indicate that monitoring data for restoration projects are not often publicly available or straightforward to access.
A workshop for key restoration practitioners and scientists aimed to draft guidelines for monitoring to identify and refine standardised monitoring methodologies to guide future restoration projects. The workshop also highlighted that new technologies show promise for increased efficiency of data collection and should be facilitated. The group also advocated for public availability of data, and the use of standardised definitions and units to facilitate comparison. These guidelines aim to improve co-ordinated and open-science monitoring.