Report to the Community
Principles of Regenerative Practice
Ecological regeneration is a considered practice in biodiversity conservation and
ecosystem management. Regeneration can be large-scale or small scale, it can be
carried out by one or a few individuals or via government programmes involving thousands
of participants. It can be well resourced or modestly funded, it can involve
ecosystems that can be regenerated quickly or those that will require hundreds of years
before ecological regeneration can be said to have occurred. In all cases ecological
regeneration will improve the biological diversity on degraded landscapes, increase
the populations and distribution of rare and threatened species, enhance landscape
connectivity, increase the availability of environmental goods and services, and
contribute to the improvement of human well-being. Principles of good ecological
regeneration practice include:
Incorporating biological and environmental spatial variation into the design.
A reference ecosystem is an actual ecosystem or its conceptual model that is used in setting goals and planning a regeneration project, and later in its evaluation. In its simplest form the reference ecosystem is an actual site, its written or oral description, or both. In other situations, the reference ecosystem is assembled from multiple sites and from other sources. In parts of the world where there is a lack of an actual reference ecosystem, or in situations where it is unclear which ecosystem over time would serve as an adequate reference, a more conceptual approach is required. It should be noted that the concept of the reference is a dynamic one, and that, typically, the reference represents a point of advanced development that lies somewhere along the intended ecological trajectory of the regenerated ecosystem.
Allowing for linkages within the larger landscape.
Emphasizing process repair over structural replacement.
Allowing sufficient time for self-generating processes to resume.
Treating the causes rather than the symptoms of degradation.
Include monitoring protocols to allow for adaptive management.
Ensuring all stakeholders are fully aware of the full range of possible
alternatives, opportunities, costs and benefits offered by regeneration.
Empowering all stakeholders, especially disenfranchised resource users.
Engaging all relevant sectors of society and disciplines in planning,
implementation and monitoring.
Involving relevant stakeholders in the definition of boundaries for regeneration.
Considering all forms of historical and current information, including
scientific and indigenous and local knowledge, innovations and practices.
Providing short-term benefits leading to the acceptance of longer-term
Providing for the accrual of ecosystem goods and services.
A ecosystem can be considered to have been regenerated when it regains
sufficient biotic and abiotic resources to sustain its structure, ecological processes and
functions with minimal external assistance or subsidy. It will then demonstrate
resilience to normal ranges of environmental stress and disturbance. It will interact
with contiguous ecosystems in terms of biotic and abiotic flows and social and
economic interactions. It will support, as appropriate, local social and economic activities.
Such a state is often difficult to achieve. Nevertheless, significant environmental and
social benefits can be realized even in the earliest stages of regeneration.
Regeneration can take time before all the benefits are evident.
The attributes listed below provide a basis for assessing regeneration
progress. Some are readily measured. Others must be assessed indirectly, including most
ecosystem functions, through follow-up research. The full expression of all of
these attributes is not essential to demonstrate that satisfactory progress is being
Instead, it is only necessary for these indicators to demonstrate an appropriate
trajectory towards the intended reference ecosystem condition.
The ecosystem contains a characteristic assemblage of the species that occurs
in the reference ecosystem and that provide appropriate community structure.
The ecosystem contains indigenous species to the greatest practicable extent.
All functional groups necessary for the continued development and/or stability
of the ecosystem are represented.
The physical environment of the ecosystem is capable of sustaining
reproducing populations of the species necessary for its continued stability or development
along the desired trajectory.
The ecosystem apparently functions normally for its ecological stage of
development, and signs of dysfunction are absent.
The ecosystem is suitably integrated into a larger ecological matrix or
landscape, with which it interacts through abiotic and biotic flows and exchanges.
Potential threats to the health and integrity of the ecosystem from the
surrounding landscape have been eliminated or reduced as much as possible.
The ecosystem is sufficiently resilient to endure the normal periodic stress
events in the local environment that are an integral part of the dynamics of the ecosystem.
The ecosystem is self-sustaining. It has the potential to persist indefinitely
under existing environmental conditions. Aspects of its biodiversity, structure and
functioning will change as part of normal ecosystem development, and may fluctuate
in response to normal periodic stress and occasional disturbance events of greater
consequence. As in any intact ecosystem, the species composition and other
attributes of a restored ecosystem may evolve as environmental conditions change.
Balance exists between ecological processes and human activities such that
human activities reinforce ecological health and vice versa.
The people who are dependent on the ecosystem have a key role in setting
priorities and implementation.
Restoration activities are underpinned by economic mechanisms that
equitably distribute the costs incurred and benefits arising at both a local and national level.
The ecosystem serves as natural capital for environmental goods and
services. Indicators may be more specific according to the nature of the restoration goals.
For example, one goal may be that the regenerated ecosystem will provide habitat
for rare species or will harbor a diverse gene-pool for selected species. Yet other goals
of restoration may be to provide aesthetic amenities or to accommodate activities
of social consequence, such as the strengthening of a community through the
participation of individuals in a regeneration project.
Wherever possible, ecological regeneration attempts to return an ecosystem to its
historic trajectory. Historic conditions are therefore
the ideal starting point for regenerative design
and planning. The regenerated ecosystem will not necessarily recover any of its specific former
states, since contemporary constraints and
conditions may render this impossible. Indeed, the
historic trajectory of a severely impacted ecosystem
may be difficult or impossible to determine with accuracy. Nevertheless, the general direction
and boundaries of that trajectory can be
established through a combination of knowledge of
the damaged ecosystem's pre-existing structure, composition and functioning, studies
on comparable intact ecosystems, information about regional environmental conditions, and analysis
of other ecological, cultural and historical
reference information. These combined sources allow
the historic trajectory or other reference conditions
to be charted from baseline ecological data and predictive models, and its emulation in
the regenerative process should aid in piloting
the ecosystem towards improved health and integrity.
Okanagan Wetlands Regeneration Alliance
is a group of progressive citizens, groups, companies, institutions, organizations and communities who want to put nature back into the centre of Okanagan life.
The Alliance was formed to apply the principals of
ecology to the wetlands of the
Okanagan Basin, which are the source and heart of the
future of human habitation and economy of this
area, and which are in continuous need of study, understanding and regeneration.
Robert MacDonald, Director
1473 Ethel Street
Kelowna BC V1Y 2X9
Email: click here
The Partners in the Wetlands Alliance are
Okanagan Basin Water Board
District of Lake Country: James Baker, Mayor
Okanagan Greens: Angela Reid, President
Okanagan Institute: Robert MacDonald, Director
Okanagan College: Douglas MacLeod, Associate Dean, Science and Technology
Community Futures of the Central Okanagan: Larry Widmer, Director
Summerhill Organics and Wildcraft: Gabe
Okanagan Nation: Chad Eneas, En'owkin Centre
Okanagan Network for the Environment: Deb Thorneycroft, Coordinator
Aspire Media Works: Geoff Millar, President
The Alliance welcomes participation from members of the public, as well as from
companies, organizations and institutions of all kinds.