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Turning a lost reef ecosystem into a national restoration program


McAfee, D and McLeod, IM and Alleway, HK and Bishop, MJ and Branigan, S and Connell, SD and Copeland, C and Crawford, CM and Diggles, BK and Fitzsimons, JA and Gilby, BL and Hamer, P and Hancock, B and Pearce, R and Russell, K and Gillies, CL, Turning a lost reef ecosystem into a national restoration program, Conservation Biology, 36, (6) Article e13958. ISSN 0888-8892 (2022) [Refereed Article]

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DOI: doi:10.1111/cobi.13958


Achieving a sustainable socioecological future now requires large-scale environmental repair across legislative borders. Yet, enabling large-scale conservation is complicated by policy-making processes that are disconnected from socioeconomic interests, multiple sources of knowledge, and differing applications of policy. We considered how a multidisciplinary approach to marine habitat restoration generated the scientific evidence base, community support, and funding needed to begin the restoration of a forgotten, functionally extinct shellfish reef ecosystem. The key actors came together as a multidisciplinary community of researchers, conservation practitioners, recreational fisher communities, and government bodies that collaborated across sectors to rediscover Australia's lost shellfish reefs and communicate the value of its restoration. Actions undertaken to build a case for large-scale marine restoration included synthesizing current knowledge on Australian shellfish reefs and their historical decline, using this history to tell a compelling story to spark public and political interest, integrating restoration into government policy, and rallying local support through community engagement. Clearly articulating the social, economic, and environmental business case for restoration led to state and national funding for reef restoration to meet diverse sustainability goals (e.g., enhanced biodiversity and fisheries productivity) and socioeconomic goals (e.g., job creation and recreational opportunities). A key lesson learned was the importance of aligning project goals with public and industry interests so that projects could address multiple political obligations. This process culminated in Australia's largest marine restoration initiative and shows that solutions for large-scale ecosystem repair can rapidly occur when socially valued science acts on political opportunities.

Item Details

Item Type:Refereed Article
Keywords:ecosystem restoration, environmental management, marine policy, oyster reef, shellfish habitat
Research Division:Agricultural, Veterinary and Food Sciences
Research Group:Fisheries sciences
Research Field:Fisheries management
Objective Division:Environmental Management
Objective Group:Marine systems and management
Objective Field:Rehabilitation or conservation of marine environments
UTAS Author:Crawford, CM (Dr Christine Crawford)
ID Code:154843
Year Published:2022
Web of Science® Times Cited:4
Deposited By:Fisheries and Aquaculture
Deposited On:2023-01-12
Last Modified:2023-02-09

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