Ecological Restoration Programs
What is it?
Ecological Restoration is the process of assisting the recovery of a damaged, degraded, or destroyed natural feature or area to increase ecological function and biodiversity. Ecological restoration brings the land to a target natural state, and can include practices such as removal of non-native plants, native seeding and planting, and changes to landscape elements, such as restoring a wetland. Ecological Restoration Programs provide direction for the planning, approval, implementation, and monitoring of a restoration site.
How can municipalities use it?
Municipalities can use Ecological Restoration Programs to ensure that restoration projects follow best practices that will ultimately help the municipality reach biodiversity, conservation, and natural infrastructure goals. High-level plans, like Municipal Development Plans, can flag the importance of restoration and protection of habitat, and can require the development of guidelines for project selection as well as best practices. Ecological Restoration goals can be included in Biodiversity, Sustainability, or other such strategies and plans. Open Space or Park Management plans can require the approval of construction activities within a natural area, as well as require restoration plans.
What are the advantages?
Ecological Restoration Programs have many benefits, including:
Increases the ecological function and resiliency of the natural infrastructure system through improving conditions of previously damaged or degraded areas
Helps a municipality to reach biodiversity and conservation goals utilizing land already held by the municipality
Can provide flexibility for site-specific levels of restoration
Can improve recreational opportunities and increase aesthetic of a landscape
Reduced maintenance costs from irrigation, mowing, fertilization of previously manicured areas
Provides an opportunity to engage community members through volunteer-based ecological restoration programs
What should you watch out for?
No tool is a silver bullet. Important considerations when creating Ecological Restoration Programs include:
Resources are required to select, manage, implement, and monitor restoration project sites
Community engagement is essential – there may be push back from community members on naturalization of previously manicured or unrestricted areas
Benefits received from restoration projects will vary greatly by site and depend on project scope
Timelines for restoration programs may be years
How can it help maintain natural infrastructure?
Ecological Restoration Programs play an important role in supporting a healthy, connected natural infrastructure system. Restoration can recover a previously damaged or degraded natural infrastructure asset, so that it can function properly and provide benefits.
City of Calgary Habitat Restoration Project Framework – This framework helps to guide the habitat restoration project process, including the development of restoration plans and reports that align with industry agreed-upon guidelines; other municipal, provincial and federal legislation and guidelines.
City of Calgary Habitat Restoration – Calgary implements naturalization and restoration programs city-wide, which helps to reach a key biodiversity target of restoring 20% of open space by 2025.
Did we miss something?
If you know of a resource that should be on this list - or your municipality has a sample or case that should be here, please let us know!