The seven-steps of the Aquatic Ecosystem Rehabilitation Process (Rehabilitation Process) provides a transparent approach to aquatic ecosystem rehabilitation including the development of an aquatic ecosystem rehabilitation plan. It is based on the Whole-of-System, Values-Based Framework (The Framework) and provides a comprehensive and integrated, values-based approach to aquatic ecosystem rehabilitation management. The process and the underpinning framework have been designed to ensure that management decisions are informed by linking an understanding of the biophysical components (parts) and processes of aquatic ecosystems to the broader landscape, and to an understanding of the ecosystem services society derives from the aquatic ecosystem. This enables consideration of the value of these services to different beneficiaries and the threats and pressures on them.
Explore a summary of the Rehabilitation Process below:
Triggers and initiatives for rehabilitation
Aquatic ecosystem rehabilitation projects can be triggered by an event or begin through an initiative to address a responsibility or a need. Natural triggers can include disasters such as cyclones, floods and fire. Societal triggers and initiatives can include the need to protect at-risk infrastructure, market mechanisms, and drivers such as government policy, legislation or planning requirements (e.g. environmental offsets, water quality improvement and biodiversity protection).
The key principles for rehabilitation are integrated into the Rehabilitation Process so if the steps are followed these principles will be adhered to.
The overarching goal for site management and rehabilitation is the wise and sustainable use of aquatic ecosystems (wetlands).
The Aquatic Ecosystem Rehabilitation Process applies seven key principles to achieve this goal:
Create a clear strategy/plan
Understand your system at multiple spatial and temporal scales
Consider if intervention is necessary
Involve First Nations People and other stakeholders
Optimise rehabilitation outcomes
Step 1: Understand whole-of-system and values
The Whole-of-System, Values-Based Framework (the Framework) involves identifying the components and processes that make up an ecosystem at multiple scales (spatial and temporal), understanding how these components and processes give rise to ecosystem services (services), and identifying and understanding the values (inlcuding intrinsic and existence) and people (stakeholders, beneficiaries) associated with an ecosystem.
When planning for the rehabilitation of aquatic ecosystems, it is important to make decisions based on the best available knowledge at several scales. The Framework underpins the Rehabilitation Process to address the need for understanding the system at multiple scales.
Rehabilitation activities that are aimed at parts of an ecosystem, with little consideration to impacts on the whole ecosystem or catchment, run the risk of unexpected and undesired outcomes. Applying catchment level, whole-of-system understanding during step 1 of the Rehabilitation Process can ensure management interventions applied to an aquatic ecosystem are appropriate for the catchment and all its different systems.
Step 2: Based on Step 1, determine need and objective/s
Step 2 looks at the detail of the proposed rehabilitation site and its immediate surrounding landscape. Site or reach scale rehabilitation should not be undertaken until the site is considered in the context of the broader Whole-of-System, Values-Based Framework.
In step 2 it is important to identify the parts of the system (components), how it works (processes), existing and potential services and values, stakeholders and beneficiaries and existing and potential pressures and opportunities.
The needs and objectives for the Aquatic Ecosystem Rehabilitation Plan can be set using the Whole-of-System, Values-Based knowledge gathered in Step 1 and based on a detailed assessment of the site. Objectives should be linked to the desired outcomes of the rehabilitation, which may be based on the services or values to be achieved. The clearer the objectives for rehabilitation, the easier it is to identify and implement management interventions.
Step 3: Review needs and objectives
The original intent of a rehabilitation plan may change over time, especially after undertaking Step 2. Step 3 in the rehabilitation process applies the information that has been gathered about the system and the site, and reviews the need for rehabilitation, and/or the appropriateness of the original objectives.
Step 4: Identify a mix of management interventions
At step 4 in the rehabilitation process, it should have been established that rehabilitation is required. There should be clear objective/s, the services and values to be maintained or enhanced should have been identified and the beneficiaries and stakeholders should be known. This information can be used to identify a mix of management interventions. Management interventions to deliver aquatic ecosystem rehabilitation outcomes can be broadly divided into six themes:
Once the mix of management interventions that address the objectives have been identified it is necessary to develop, document and cost a detailed design plan (Step 5). Designs are needed for all management interventions, not just engineered solutions. Maintenance, monitoring and engagement activities for the life of the project also need to be designed. Legal and safety requirements as well as timelines for approvals need to be considered. The detailed design needs to be guided by suitably qualified experts (e.g. a fluvial geomorphologist can design the work but it may need to be signed off by a registered engineer), and include local knowledge and input. Once finalised, a review of the design plan (including ground-truthing), will assist with determining the feasibility of the proposed management interventions (i.e. can it be implemented at the intended locations, at the appropriate scale, in the sequence necessary and within the available budget).
Step 6: Implementation
Step 6 involves the implementation of the project in step 5, and can include on-ground works, applied research, engagement, education and awareness, applied research and monitoring (in accordance with the Condition Assessment Monitoring Plan). Decisions now need to be made about the most effective way to implement the project. If the people who developed the detailed design are not those involved in the implementation there needs to be clear instructions provided, and a strategy in place for who to contact if further information is needed.
Step 7: Maintenance, monitoring, evaluation, adaptation, and sharing
After the implementation of the intervention, it is tempting to consider that the project is complete. However, long term maintenance and monitoring is required to evaluate progress towards the objectives. Through Step 7, evaluation will help determine if adaptation of the management approach is required. Once the evaluation has shown clear results these can be shared.
Last updated: 30 June 2022
This page should be cited as:
Department of Environment and Science, Queensland (2022) Get help using the Rehabilitation Process, WetlandInfo website, accessed 1 February 2023. Available at: https://wetlandinfo.des.qld.gov.au/wetlands/management/rehabilitation/rehab-process/aerp-help/