It is widely accepted that plans for restoration projects should contain specific, measurable, and science-based objectives to guide restoration efforts. The United States Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) is in the process of developing Comprehensive Conservation Plans (CCPs) for more than 500 units in the National Wildlife Refuge System (NWRS). These plans contain objectives for biological and ecosystem restoration efforts on the refuges. Based on USFWS policy, a system was developed to evaluate the scientific quality of such objectives based on three critical factors: (1) Is the objective specific, measurable, achievable, results-oriented, and time-fixed? (2) What is the extent of the rationale that explains the assumptions, logic, and reasoning for the objective? (3) How well was available science used in the development of the objective? The evaluation system scores each factor on a scale of 1 (poor) to 4 (excellent) according to detailed criteria. The biological and restoration objectives from CCPs published as of September 2004 (60 total) were evaluated. The overall average score for all biological and restoration objectives was 1.73. Average scores for each factor were: Factor 1-1.97; Factor 2-1.86; Factor 3-1.38. The overall scores increased from 1997 to 2004. Future restoration efforts may benefit by using this evaluation system during the process of plan development, to ensure that biological and restoration objectives are of the highest scientific quality possible prior to the implementation of restoration plans, and to allow for improved monitoring and adaptive management.
Additional publication details
A system to evaluate the scientific quality of biological and restoration objectives using National Wildlife Refuge Comprehensive Conservation Plans as a case study