The RESTORE project
The RESTORE project (Rethinking Ecological and Social Theories of Restoration Ecology) is co-led by ECCo, the Chicago Wilderness science team, and research partners at UIC, DePaul University, USDA Forest Service, and UIUC.
RESTORE explores how perceptions of nature, types of knowledge, and collective decision making strategies affect ecological restoration practices in Chicago Wilderness, and how these different practices influence biodiversity outcomes. We selected 11 research sites in Cook, DuPage, and Lake Counties that represent a variety of organizations and ways of conducting restoration in oak woodland/savannas. RESTORE explores the following questions:
- Are there differences in decision-making processes involved in ecological restoration?
- Do they lead to differences in biodiversity outcomes?
- Do these outcomes influence the extent to which the public supports restoration decisions?
ECCo’s social science team interviewed more than 50 land managers, researchers, and volunteers and observed restoration activities. We gathered information on the ecological history of each site and how and why different land management decisions were made. We are now analyzing the data and integrating our findings with those of the ecologists evaluating the sites’ biodiversity.
We have developed an agent-based model using preliminary empirical data from the interviews and observations to simulate different interaction processes. Complete analysis of the interview data will allow us to refine the model and simulate specific decision-making scenarios.
We are in the process of conducting surveys on public attitudes and knowledge of restoration activities, with onsite natural area visitors and surrounding neighbors.
The end goal of RESTORE is to recommend models for restoration that result in the desired outcomes for natural areas in the region.
RESTORE is funded by the National Science Foundation
For more information, contact Dr. Cristy Watkins