International Law and Policy on Restoration

Authored by: A.n. Cliquet

Routledge Handbook of Ecological and Environmental Restoration

Print publication date:  May  2017
Online publication date:  May  2017

Print ISBN: 9781138922129
eBook ISBN: 9781315685977
Adobe ISBN:


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Law and policy can be an important trigger to get restoration activities done ‘on the ground’. However restoration-based laws often facilitate remediation or compensation, instead of demanding effective, feasible, and knowledge-based in situ restoration or rehabilitation (Aronson et al. 2011). When no clear guidance is given in law and policy, ‘restoration’ activities might not have the intended result, or might even have unwanted side-effects. More guidance on ecological restoration in laws and policies is needed. Clear principles of practice should be at the basis of restoration efforts on the ground (Suding et al. 2015). Restoration obligations in legal instruments can roughly be divided into three categories:

Restoration obligations can be found in nature conservation laws, imposing obligations on states or stakeholders to conserve and/or restore the environment to a favourable conservation status – a ‘command and control’ approach. These obligations are often linked to the management obligations for protected areas, but are not limited to this. Examples include the in situ obligations in the Biodiversity Convention. 1

Restoration obligations also can be found in laws that oblige compensatory measures in case of infrastructure projects. Compensatory measures are understood as measures that restore, create or enhance an area of habitat or a species population in order to compensate for residual damage caused by a plan or project. Examples include mitigation banking in the US and the compensation obligations for the Natura 2000 network in the EU Habitats Directive. 2

Restoration can be imposed in the framework of a liability regime for environmental or ecological damage, in which the responsible party for ecological damage is required to restore the environment. Examples can be found in specific legal regimes, such as the Convention on Civil Liability for Oil Pollution Damage, 3 or the EU Environmental Liability Directive. 4

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