Restoring the hydrological integrity of wetland habitats in Finland


Main funder

Funder's project number: LIFE16 NAT/FI/000583


Funds granted by main funder (€)

  • 141 531,00


Funding program


Project timetable

Project start date: 01/08/2017

Project end date: 31/12/2023


Summary

Too often it seems that monitoring programs are initiated by the professional managers and conservationists without the involvement of the professionals of the monitoring. Indeed, in scientific literature there has been alarming news from Europe, USA and Australia about many existing programs for monitoring that are not really useful for the purpose they have been established for. Failure can be addressed to the fact that investigators have not devoted thought to fundamental questions associated with establishment of such programs. These failures have greatly reduced the value of monitoring programs, and are especially troubling, because they often require nontrivial fractions of the total funding available for management of habitats and populations. In this project we will avoid this failure by involving both the professionals of management and the professionals of monitoring in the planning, executing, analyzing and reporting of the project.

Ecological restoration is still a relatively young discipline: The Society for Ecological Restoration and Management was established 1987 and the leading journal in the field, Restoration Ecology published its first volume just 23 years ago in 1993. While there are numerous short term studies, long term data sets spanning over more than 10 years on the effects of ecological restoration are rare. This is a real problem as, despite the active restoration actions, the recovery of the ecosystems still relies on the natural succession and that is a slow process. At worst case scenario, the results of many short term monitoring projects are only describing the response of the ecosystem to the disturbance caused by the restoration actions and do not assess the recovery at all. Moreover, many of the existing time series on the effects of ecological restoration are based on single site case studies. The short time periods and lack of replication make the generalization and thus learning from the results challenging and prevents development of new more efficient restoration methods and tools.

In this project we will utilize the peatland restoration monitoring network established in the Boreal Peatland Life project. Establishing only new monitoring sites in each new project is very inefficient because short term monitoring cannot be used to deliver long term data needed. Only long term monitoring of the same sites will be able to deliver the ecological effects that are the ultimate focus of the restoration efforts. By monitoring the already restored sites that are on the same ecosystem types and have been restored using the same methodology as will be in this project, we will be able to analyze cost efficiently the long term ecological effects that would otherwise be impossible to achieve.

Ecosystems are complexes wherein physical, chemical, and biological structures interact to govern system functions. As the structures of ecosystems are disturbed by human actions, so will be their functions. We have planned a monitoring scheme that aims at the evaluation of the success of the restoration at three important hierarchical levels. At the highest level the restoration needs to be technically successful and this will be confirmed by general monitoring. At the next level, to be successful, restoration needs to be able to recreate the physical and chemical properties natural for the habitat types. The success of restoration in achieving this goal will be addressed with hydrological monitoring. Only technically successful restoration that has successfully created the physical and chemical properties natural for the habitat types may be successful also in restoring the biological and ecological attributes which are the ultimate targets of the restoration of the habitats. Vegetation is the most important biological attribute that in practice determines the habitat types. Therefore, to be able to verify the success of the restoration in terms of recovering the natural state of the important habitat types, we will conduct vegetation monitoring.

The most important aspect in evaluating the success of the restoration is the setting of the target state for the habitat to be restored. Without predefined target one is unable to determine the success or failure of the restoration. The target we have chosen is the natural or near natural state of each of the above main habitat types. Since the natural state of the habitats is in general not known for any habitat types, the target state will be quantified by establishing similar vegetation monitoring plots into the habitats that are considered to be in natural or near natural state. Similarly, it is vital for the evaluation of the success of the restoration to determine the state of the habitats that will be restored prior to the restoration: one needs to know the original state in order to be able to tell if there has been a change to the better or to the worse due to restoration. By comparing the state of the vegetation prior restoration and rate and direction of the vegetation change after restoration to the state of vegetation in the natural or near natural habitats we are able to obtain objective quantitative measures indicating whether and how fast the vegetation is moving towards the predefined target state.

By comparing the state of the physical, chemical and biological attributes prior to restoration and the rate and direction of the change of the attributes after restoration to the state of the attributes in the target habitats, we are able to obtain objective quantitative measures indicating whether and how fast the attributes are moving towards the predefined target state. These quantitative measures will be derived with analysis methods developed for community structure comparisons and their new applications that will be developed for the quantitative estimation of ecological success of management and restoration of the habitats.


Principal Investigator


Primary responsible unit


Last updated on 2019-30-01 at 12:09