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Title: The use of reference ecosystems as a basis for assessing restoration benefits
Authors: Environmental Benefits Analysis Program (U.S.)
United States. Army. Corps of Engineers. Rock Island District.
Pruitt, Bruce A.
Miller, Sarah J.
Theiling, Chuck H.
Fischenich, J. Craig, 1962-
Keywords: Ecosystems
Ecosystem restoration
Reference ecosystems
Project planning
Project management
Project Monitoring
Ecosystem Management and Restoration Research Program
Issue Date: May-2012
Publisher: Environmental Laboratory (U.S.)
Engineer Research and Development Center (U.S.)
Description: Technical Note
Overview: The use of type-specific reference conditions can significantly improve planning, implementation, and monitoring of ecosystem restoration projects. Effective forecasting of restoration effects on aquatic ecosystems requires an understanding of the structure and function of the system; natural reference systems within a geographical region contribute significantly to this understanding (Griffin et al. 1994). Historically, reference conditions have primarily been applied within the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) to identify target functions as an integral part of compensatory mitigation requirements of the Clean Water Act of 1977 (USACE 2011). There has also been some limited application to objective setting and design for ecosystem restoration. In recent years, the importance of reference conditions to a suite of applications has been acknowledged by the scientific community (Miller et al. 2012). However, despite the abundance of guidance related to stream and wetland functions assessment, the criteria used to identify reference conditions and reference approaches have not been adequately addressed across all aquatic ecosystem types. Establishment of reference sites is paramount to assessing wetland functions using the hydrogeomorphic function assessment (Smith et. al. 1995). However, reference sites have not thus far been utilized as a basis for quantifying environmental benefits across aquatic ecosystems. Moreover, reference conditions concepts have not thus far been utilized as a basis for quantifying environmental benefits, despite several potential advantages relative to other options. The objectives of this technical note are three-fold: 1) to propose uses of reference conditions as a basis for identifying metrics and assessing restoration benefits; 2) to introduce a systemized process to facilitate the selection of suitable reference approaches; and 3) to propose the development of a reference condition index (RCI) that could serve to guide the application of reference concepts to environmental benefits assessment.
Appears in Collections:Technical Note - Ecosystem Management and Restoration Research Program

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