Springbrook Rescue
HomeThe VisionSpringbrook — A Natural WonderThe Springbrook Rescue ProjectSupport the ProjectAbout ARCS

The Science

Goals and objectivesConceptual modelsProjects

Science Goals and Objectives

Put simply, we want the best chance to recover World Heritage values that have been lost or damaged in the core region of the Gondwana Rainforests of Australia World Heritage Area. The imperative is to restore critical rainforest habitat and landscape integrity especially for those species that contribute outstanding universal value to the Site. Specifically we are committed to achieving our restoration goal of:

“an expanded, protected and self-sustaining World Heritage area that provides secure and viable habitat for flora and fauna that contribute outstanding universal value, that functions and looks as it did historically before it was disturbed, and is able to resist or recover from climate change and other impacts”

Given the complex and unpredictable nature of ecological systems and their ability to change rapidly, unexpectedly, often irreversibly, into something quite different both in form and functions, a scientific approach to restoration is desirable.

The scientific method is the best-known way to discover how and why the natural world works that is unbiased, transparent, rigorous and repeatable by anyone. Moreover, it operates within a coherent, widely published framework of testable theories and empirical evidence from which we can derive assistance.

Thus adopting a scientific approach provides rigour and the ability to test explanations for what is directly observed or measured and also predict and test what might happen under different circumstances.

Our Science Goals are expressed as end-goals as follows:

  • Our chosen conceptual ecological models successfully guided restoration
  • Reference sites provided a reliable chronosequence of succession against which assisted ecological restoration was compared and evaluated
  • The monitoring program was innovative and effective in revealing progress towards achieving all science objectives
  • All interventions were justified and executed on the basis of sound science
  • Surprising results led to advances in restoration ecology
  • Our findings were fully and widely documented, reported and positively peer-reviewed


Science Objectives
To ensure we give ourselves the best chance of achieving our long-term restoration goal we have set measurable, time-bound objectives with which to guide and measure progress against, consistent with internationally recognised requirements for achieving resistant and resilient ecological communities (SER 2004). These objectives relate to measurable structural and functional attributes of ecosystems and their ecological or functional connectivity across landscapes.

  • The restored ecosystem contains the characteristic assemblage of species with community composition, structure and functions analogous to those in reference ecosystems
  • The restored ecosystem provides viable habitat for rare, threatened and significant species
  • The restored ecosystem comprises only indigenous species
  • All functional groups necessary for continued development, viability, health, resilience and evolutionary capacity, are present or able to colonize naturally
  • The abiotic environment can sustain reproductively viable populations of those species required for resistance and resilience and continued ecosystem development along the desired trajectory
  • The restored ecosystem apparently functions normally for its ecological stage of development with signs of dysfunction absent
  • The restored ecosystems are suitably integrated into a larger ecological matrix or landscape with which it interacts through abiotic and biotic flows and exchanges
  • Potential threats to the health and integrity of the restored ecosystems from the surrounding landscape have been eliminated or reduced as much as possible
  • The restored ecosystems are sufficiently resilient to endure the normal periodic stress events in the local environment that serve to maintain the integrity of the ecosystem
  • The restored ecosystems are self-sustaining to the same degree as their reference ecosystems and have the potential to persist indefinitely under existing environmental conditions.

The Activities carried out to achieve both Science Goals and Objectives are detailed in the projects.1

1   Environmental monitoring involves wireless sensor networks, ARCS weather stations, photographs and observations, both programmed and incidental. Ecological monitoring involves a range of longitudinal biodiversity surveys together with productivity assessments. These involve measuring growth rates and other vital parameters on a range of sample plots and correlated with climate, weather and other environment data being assessed.