Riparian Restoration Program
Monitoring the Effects of Restoration Efforts
In western landscapes, active land management often involves restoring degraded habitats. Habitat restoration is one of the only alternatives for conserving biodiversity in vanishing landscapes. The factors which lead to degraded habitats range from fire suppression in low-elevation forests, to overgrazing of riparian vegetation, to the effects of toxic runoff and tailings from past mining activities.
As we actively restore such areas, it is incumbent on us to monitor the success of our actions– to consistently evaluate the cumulative progress made over time and alter or improve our future actions based on these monitoring results. By tracking the progress of restoration, we can facilitate adaptive management of our resources.
Using birds as a tool, the Avian Science Center is now helping to monitor the success of a handful of different restoration projects in Montana. Birds are an excellent metric with which to monitor the benefits and successes of restoration efforts. First, data can be collected easily and inexpensively for dozens of species across broad spatial scales. Secondly, collective functional effects of restoration can be integrated into information on bird communities and on individual bird species of interest, providing a solid measure of the success of our efforts. And, finally, the public can identify with birds, thus improving educational and recreational opportunities.
We are presently involved in four collaborative efforts aimed to enhance the condition of riparian areas. Click on one of the subheadings at the left to read more about the idea behind, and the results that have emerged from, that particular monitoring effort.