Procedures and policies have evolved along with the technical knowledge about restoration ecology. Procedures involve methods for organizing and understanding restoration projects so that knowledge developed from them can be effectively utilized in decision making. In turn, because of the success of restoration ecology and its methodologies, public policies have emerged that mandate restoration of certain environmental impacts.
A number of procedures have been developed to ensure success of restoration projects. These procedures address methodological challenges that are inherent in restoration. Clewell and Rieger (1997) provide a list of 15 of these issues with discussion of each problem and of possible solutions. Several of the most important issues are discussed below.
Perhaps the most critical procedure to be followed in restoration ecology is to have some kind of monitoring program for a restoration project that will provide data on the development of the restored ecosystem. Monitoring data is the basis for adaptive management. In this approach data on the ecosystem are compared with a target or set of target goals. If the monitoring data match with the target, then the restoration is making successful progress and no action is required. However, if the monitoring data do not match with the target, then some remedial measures should be taken. There are many ideas on how to conduct monitoring programs and on how to establish appropriate target goals, but as noted by Cairns (1986) below, there is little agreement on standards to follow:
The probability of achieving anything approaching a professional consensus on the relative importance, reliability, replicability, measurement, interpretation, and a variety of other issues regarding end points at the community and ecosystem level is small.
Thus, restoration procedures are essentially subjective and will always be open to debate.
One of the most fundamental issues with restoration projects is what to measure. There are a large number of possible parameters that could be measured in an ecosystem (see for example E. P. Odum's  list of 24 attributes as a starting point), but it is not possible on practical grounds, alone, to measure everything. Some single measure or set of measures must be choosen for tracking progress and establishing end points for restoration. In many cases there are obvious choices. For example, when restoration involves an active planting program, the survival and reproduction of the intentionally planted species must be a consideration. These species are judged to be desirable and their presence indicates success of the project. Conversely, invasion by undesirable species (see Chapter 7) indicates failure of the project and triggers remedial action. This particular attitude about invasive, exotic species is deeply engrained in restoration science to the degree that the Society of Ecological Restoration has established a formal bylaw against the use of exotic, nonnative species in restoration projects.
A number of measures of ecosystem structure and function have been used for evaluating restoration projects depending on ecosystem type and preference of the researcher. In some cases individual parameters are used as indicators of the overall
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