The need, opportunities, and challenges for creating a standardized framework for marine restoration monitoring and reporting
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Marine ecosystems have been used, impacted by, and managed by human populations for millennia. As ecosystem degradation has been a common outcome of these activities, marine management increasingly considers ecosystem restoration. Currently, there is no coherent data recording format or framework for marine restoration projects. As a result, data are inconsistently recorded and it is difficult to universally track progress, assess restoration's global effectiveness, reduce reporting bias, collect a holistic suite of metrics, and share information. Barriers to developing a unified system for reporting marine restoration outcomes include: reaching agreement on a framework that meets the needs of all users, funding its development and maintenance, balancing the need for ‘ease of use’ and detail, and demonstrating the value of using the framework. However, there are opportunities to leverage arising from the United Nation Decades of Ecosystem Restoration and Science for Sustainable Development and with existing processes already developed by restoration groups (e.g. Global Mangrove Alliance, Society for Ecological Restoration). Here we provide guidelines and a roadmap for how such a framework could be developed and the potential benefits of such an endeavor. We call on practitioners to collaborate to develop such a framework and on governing bodies to commit to making detailed reporting a requirement for restoration project funding. Using a standardized marine restoration monitoring framework would enable the application of adaptive management when projects are not progressing as expected, advance our understanding of the state of worldwide marine restoration, and generate knowledge to advance restoration methodologies.
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