Browsing by Author "Ntshotsho, Phumza"
Now showing 1 - 2 of 2
Results Per Page
- ItemIdentifying challenges to building an evidence base for restoration practice(MDPI, 2015-11-30) Ntshotsho, Phumza; Esler, Karen J.; Reyers, BelindaGlobal acknowledgement of ecological restoration, as an important tool to complement conservation efforts, requires an effort to increase the effectiveness of restoration interventions. Evidence-based practice is purported to promote effectiveness. A central tenet of this approach is decision making that is based on evidence, not intuition. Evidence can be generated experimentally and in practice but needs to be linked to baseline information collection, clear goals and monitoring of impact. In this paper, we report on a survey conducted to assess practitioners’ perceptions of the evidence generated in restoration practice in South Africa, as well as challenges encountered in building this evidence base. Contrary to a recent assessment of this evidence base which found weaknesses, respondents viewed it as adequate and cited few obstacles to its development. Obstacles cited were mostly associated with planning and resource availability. We suggest that the disparity between practitioners’ perceptions and observed weaknesses in the evidence base could be a challenge in advancing evidence-based restoration. We explore opportunities to overcome this disparity as well as the obstacles listed by practitioners. These opportunities involve a shift from practitioners as users of scientific knowledge and evidence, to practitioners involved in the co-production of evidence needed to increase the effectiveness of restoration interventions.
- ItemTowards evidence-based ecological restoration in South Africa(Stellenbosch : Stellenbosch University, 2012-12) Ntshotsho, Phumza; Reyers, Belinda; Esler, Karen J.; Stellenbosch University. Faculty of AgriSciences. Dept. of Conservation Ecology and Entomology.ENGLISH ABSTRACT: Widespread, human-induced ecosystem degradation and the associated biodiversity loss pose a direct threat to human wellbeing. While there is no substitute for healthy, self-sustaining ecosystems, ecological restoration offers an attractive, and indeed inevitable, supplement where conservation alone is not sufficient to support ecosystem integrity. Restoration is undergoing a revolution, where evidence-based (EB) practice is emerging as a new approach to increase the chances of successfully achieving restoration goals. EB practice is based on the notion that implementation decisions need to be based on the appraisal and use of evidence of effectiveness of alternative options. The point of departure of this thesis is the contention that EB practice need not be dependent only on research evidence. The work presented herein thus addresses the production and use of evidence of effectiveness in restoration practice. Using ten restoration programs in South Africa, the quality of evidence produced in practice was assessed. Three components of evidence production that were evaluated were (i) baseline condition measurement; (ii) goal setting and (iii) monitoring. Results showed poor definition of goals; a bias towards the use of socio-economic goals and indicators; more monitoring of inputs than impact; and inconsistent and short-term monitoring of biophysical indicators. Practitioners regarded the evidence base as adequate, but cited a few challenges associated with planning and resource availability as attributing factors to the gaps observed. I propose that practitioners’ perception of the current evidence base poses an additional threat to the generation of a strong evidence base. In addition to the production of evidence, access to said evidence is a vital component of EB practice. In an exploration of how evidence is made available by practitioners, it became evident in that a considerable amount of the information that was not easily accessible in documented form was known by the practitioners. This highlights the need for a shift in practice culture towards the valuing and rewarding of the dissemination of information. An assessment of EB restoration would have been incomplete without a deliberate consideration of social factors. I thus conducted a case study of an invasive alien plant clearing program, to determine what drives the use of scientific evidence in decision making. I observed that organizational structure, policies, priorities and capacity influence, and even limit, the use of scientific evidence to inform decisions. The challenges to making restoration evidence-based are diverse in nature, ranging from poor planning of restoration work, which points to limited appreciation of the need to produce a strong evidence base, to a lack of instruments and incentives to drive the generation, dissemination and use of evidence that spans both the biophysical and social aspects of restoration. These challenges are largely rooted in the conventional way of approaching restoration from individual disciplinary perspectives, thus artificially simplifying and compartmentalizing a naturally complex problem like degradation. I end by proposing transdisciplinarity, which focuses on a holistic world view and the production of knowledge that embraces complexity, as a possible vehicle to help move the practice of restoration towards being evidence-based.