Conference 2003

Conference 2003
Greening the City:
Bringing Biodiversity Back
into the Urban Environment


Restoration's Holy Grail - Synthesising Theory and Practice in the Development of a Holistic Framework for Urban Restoration

Sarah Burke (School of Geography and Environmental Science, University of Auckland)

Urban ecological restoration involves reinstating and maintaining the ecosystem health of a site within an urban environment and is often undertaken by volunteers and enthusiasts from the local community. With scarce resources, many of these restoration efforts depend upon the support and goodwill of the people involved and participating non-government organisations. Urban restoration serves to educate and provide communities with a point of interaction with the natural world, thereby enabling individuals to develop their own sense of value for nature.

However, restoration practice has not always delivered successful results. This may be due to the fact that restoration ecology lacks an ecologically sound theoretical foundation from which to develop management practice. This lack of fundamental guidance may have led to the current use of non-standardised restoration techniques, variable results, and an inability to progress in the field. In the development of a theoretical basis for restoration ecology, some have suggested that restoration practice could be used as an 'acid test' of ecological theory. To date, little research has been done in this area.

Part of the problem appears to lie in the fact that ecology itself lacks unifying theories, clarity in definition of terminologies, and is further complicated by non-standardised techniques in data collection and analysis.

If the development of a theoretically sound approach to restoration ecology is possible, a secondary problem would be making practical sense of this information - developing practical restoration guidelines or principles that can be communicated to and undertaken by restoration practitioners.

This presentation discusses these issues in the context of developing a framework for ecological restoration that finds synthesis between theory and practice. This will be illustrated through the case example of GreenFleet - a sustainable transport program that involves tree planting to offset carbon emissions.

New Zealand's commitment towards ratification of the Kyoto Protocol will promote further restoration initiatives driven by carbon-crediting objectives. Therefore, in order to meet the growing demand for progressive and successful restoration, a standardised framework is required that recognises the importance of knowledge, the necessity of people's active participation, and synergistic exchange between the two.

Conference sponsored by:

British Council NZ
The Community Trust
Landcare Research

Follow this link to view other organisations supportive of the conference

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Last updated: October 9, 2003