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The challenges of integrating biodiversity and ecosystem services monitoring and evaluation at a landscape-scale wetland restoration project in the UK

Francine M. R. Hughes, Animal and Environment Research Group, Department of Life Sciences, Anglia Ruskin University, Cambridge, UK
William M. Adams, Department of Geography, University of Cambridge, Cambridge, UK
Stuart H. M. Butchart, BirdLife International, David Attenborough Building, Cambridge, UK; Department of Zoology, Cambridge, UK
Rob H. Field, RSPB Centre for Conservation Science, Royal Society for the Protection of Birds, The Lodge, Sandy, Bedfordshire, UK
Kelvin S.-H. Peh, Centre for Biological Sciences, University of Southampton, Southampton, UK; Conservation Science Group, Department of Zoology, University of Cambridge, Cambridge, UK
Stuart Warrington, National Trust, Wicken Fen National Nature Reserve, Wicken, Cambridgeshire, UK


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There is an increasing emphasis on the restoration of ecosystem services as well as of biodiversity, especially where restoration projects are planned at a landscape scale. This increase in the diversity of restoration aims has a number of conceptual and practical implications for the way that restoration projects are monitored and evaluated. Landscape-scale projects require monitoring of not only ecosystem services and biodiversity but also of ecosystem processes since these can underpin both. Using the experiences gained at a landscape-scale wetland restoration project in the UK, we discuss a number of issues that need to be considered, including the choice of metrics for monitoring ecosystem services and the difficulties of assessing the interactions between ecosystem processes, biodiversity, and ecosystem services. Particular challenges that we identify, using two pilot data sets, include the decoupling of monetary metrics used for monitoring ecosystem services from biophysical change on the ground and the wide range of factors external to a project that influence the monitoring results. We highlight the fact that the wide range of metrics necessary to evaluate the ecosystem service, ecosystem process, and biodiversity outcomes of landscape-scale projects presents a number of practical challenges, including the need for high levels of varied expertise, high costs, incommensurate monitoring outputs, and the need for careful management of monitoring results, especially where they may be used in making decisions about the relative importance of project aims.

Key words

biodiversity; ecosystem processes; ecosystem services; landscape-scale; metrics; monitoring; restoration; valuation; Wicken Fen

Copyright © 2016 by the author(s). Published here under license by The Resilience Alliance. This article is under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License. You may share and adapt the work for noncommercial purposes provided the original author and source are credited, you indicate whether any changes were made, and you include a link to the license.

Ecology and Society. ISSN: 1708-3087