Toward a social-ecological approach to ecological restoration: a look back at three decades of maritime clifftop restoration

Abstract : The sharp increase in the touristic use of the maritime clifftops in western France after WWII resulted in a concentration of activities that generated ecosystem degradation in many sites (e.g. touristic infrastructure, human trampling). Consideration of the ecological value of these sites over the past three decades has led to a shift in maritime clifftop management and consequently to numerous planning and restoration projects. Using inventories of maritime clifftop restoration projects conducted in 2007 and 2016, we identified 76 restoration projects, which allowed us to study the active and passive restoration methods used. In addition, we collected and analyzed 465 vegetation monitoring plots with an average duration of 5.6 years to understand how they were used by both scientists and nonscientists. First, we describe the social-ecological systems of these restoration projects through an analysis of their social contexts, ecological stakes, and restoration goals based on 19 semistructured interviews with restoration stakeholders. Comparing our research with similar studies in the literature reveals that the main strength of maritime clifftop restorations is a strong network between scientist and nonscientist stakeholders combined with high-level monitoring. Finally, we underline the main challenges for the future of maritime clifftop ecological restoration: (1) the need for further study of this ecological database (e.g. to study the medium-term effect of active restoration, continue current monitoring); and (2) the need to develop sociological studies of human uses and perceptions to improve the long-term management of restored ecosystems.
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Maxime Leroy, Jérôme Sawtschuk, Frédéric Bioret, Sébastien Gallet. Toward a social-ecological approach to ecological restoration: a look back at three decades of maritime clifftop restoration. Restoration Ecology, Wiley, In press, 27 (1), pp.228-238. ⟨10.1111/rec.12849⟩. ⟨hal-01915340⟩

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