Identifying challenges to building an evidence base for restoration practice
CITATION: Ntshotsho, P., Esler, K. J. & Reyers, B. 2015. Identifying challenges to building an evidence base for restoration practice. Sustainability, 7(12):15871–15881, doi:10.3390/su71215788.
The original publication is available at http://www.mdpi.com/journal/sustainability
Global 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.