Outcomes from engaging urban community groups in publicly funded vegetation restoration
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Community-based ecological restoration (CBR) has been encouraged by government funding schemes worldwide to help reverse ecosystem degradation, although many observers have questioned their longer-term outcomes. We investigated the ecological and social outcomes of community-based revegetation projects in an urban context, using the case study of all CBR groups located within 25 km of the Brisbane CBD which had been funded during 1997-2008 by the Australian Government's Natural Heritage Trust program to undertake revegetation works and which were also available for interview (N = 9 groups). First we reviewed the funding allocation within the region. Second, we conducted rapid on-ground assessments of vegetation outcomes at 10 project sites several years after works were completed, which showed that the detectable area of established revegetation averaged 75% of the area planned, and the achieved revegetation areas varied greatly, both in total and in relation to cost. Third, we undertook thematic analysis of semi-structured interviews with key group members, revealing that groups viewed the NHT scheme's short-term funding and lack of administrative flexibility as being largely incompatible with both quantitative monitoring (which groups did not prioritise) and longer-term maintenance of sites for successful vegetation establishment. Interactions with local governments were considered important to success, but internally-conflicting policies of local and state governments, together with unforeseen site disturbances, acted to limit the achievement of projects' revegetation goals. Volunteer involvement and motivation were an important part of groups' activities. Overall, these CBR projects achieved modest short term environmental benefits together with a range of social benefits. There is a need for new CBR models aimed at maximising both environmental and social outcomes.
Ecological Management and Restoration
Environmental Rehabilitation (excl. Bioremediation)