Evaluating Recovery Potential

Recovery Potential


Synopsis of Topic

Recovery potential has various definitions, but in this class we will treat it as proxy for identifying realistic targets. Various methods exist for evaluating different aspects of recovery potential that we will review in class. Most restoration projects do explicitly define a target or analogue of some sort. In some cases, that is a historic analogue or condition for that reach. However, which point in time or history is appropriate and asking the question as to whether or not any historic target is realistic to achieve given current and projected boundary conditions is always important.

Reference reaches (i.e. choosing an intact or good condition variant of the same type or flavor of stream/river), is a common approach too, but whether or not recovery to that better condition variant is possible needs to be assessed. Also, without adequate geomorphic context it is easy to choose inappropriate or unrealistic reference reaches as analogues. Based on a solid understanding of the physiographic setting, geomorphic setting and ecological condition, theoretical analogues can also be developed. Assessing recovery potential is all about defining realistic targets and objectively assessing the degree of achievability. We will review a variety of techniques by which this is done, but we won’t do any of them at this stage. We refer you to Chapter 11 of Brierley and Fryirs (2005) for one of the more comprehensive treatments of the subject.

Why we’re covering it

Recovery potential is helpful for defining reasonable and realistic targets for restoration. Without an appraisal of actual potential to recover, unrealistic targets might be chosen (e.g. a historic analogue when boundary conditions have changed, or a reference reach inappropriate to the setting).

Learning Outcomes

The course learning outcomes that this topic fulfills include:

  1. Build a working understanding of the typical process through which restoration projects are conceived, proposed, planned, permitted and conceptually designed.
  2. Objectively evaluate and analyze the scientific, political, economic and feasibility tradeoffs of various approaches to restoration in a specific project context and gain an appreciation of working with diverse stakeholders. Synthesize this analysis through a planning process that prioritizes specific restoration and management actions throughout a watershed.




In the sixth week we wrapped up some carry over from [condition assesssment] and focused on recovery potential through the lens of the Conservation Planning Process .


Tools we Used

In class we used both BRAT & RCAT as examples to conceptualize the idea of recovery potential.

Relevant or Cited Literature

Books we Looked at in Class:

Specific Articles or Chapters:

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