Building Social Capacity for Restoration Success

Authored by: Elizabeth Covelli Metcalf , Alexander L. Metcalf , Jakki J. Mohr

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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One of the greatest challenges to successful restoration is the integration and participation of key stakeholders including NGOs, citizens, private landowners, restoration practitioners, and many others. Often, restoration success is defined solely by ecological factors. However, evidence continues to mount suggesting success may ultimately be driven by social factors (Metcalf et al. 2015; Grimble and Wellard 1997). Ecologists, social scientists, and natural resource managers alike have called for a more integrated approach to restoration that balances social goals along with ecological goals (Palmer and Bernhardt 2006). This integrated approach is particularly essential for large-landscape restoration efforts where resources span multiple jurisdictions, including public and private land, the outcomes affect a multitude of stakeholders, and decisions are open to public scrutiny. Achieving restoration success at this scale requires a social-ecological systems (SES) approach. According to the Stockholm Resilience Centre (undated), ‘there are no natural systems without people, nor social systems without nature. Social and ecological systems are truly interdependent and constantly co-evolving’. It has become clear that management agencies and restoration practitioners must be willing to actively engage stakeholders in decision-making processes and balance social goals alongside ecological goals if restoration efforts are to succeed.

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