Learning from scientiﬁc literature: Can indicators for measuring success be standardized in “on the ground” restoration?
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The Society for Ecological Restoration (SER) Primer identiﬁes key ecosystem attributes for evaluating restoration outcome. Broad attribute categories could be necessary due to the large variety of restoration projects, but could make overall evaluations and assessments challenging and might hamper the development of sound and successful restoration. In this study we carry out a systematic review of scientiﬁc papers addressing evaluation of restoration outcome. We include 104 studies published after 2010 from Europe or North America, representing different types of restoration projects in terrestrial and freshwater ecosystems. We explore the main ecological and socioeconomic attributes used to evaluate restoration outcome, and related indicators and speciﬁc methods applied to measure this, in relation to ecosystem and type of restoration project. We identify a wide range of indicators within each attribute,and show that very different methods are employed to measure them. This complexity reduces the opportunity for meaningful comparison and standardization of evaluation of restoration outcome, within and between ecosystems. Socioeconomic indicators are rarely used to evaluate restoration outcome, and studies including both ecological and socioeconomic indicators are nearly absent. Based on our ﬁndings we discuss whether standardization and streamlining of indicators is useful to improve the evaluation of “on the ground” restoration, or if this is not appropriate given the diversity of goals and ecosystems involved. Species-speciﬁc traits are used in many projects and should be considered as an addition to the original SERattributes. Furthermore, we discuss the potential for restoration evaluation that encompasses not only assessment of ecological but also socioeconomic indicators.