About the GRN

The Evolution of the GRN

The Global Restoration Network was an idea that first germinated in the late 1990s between the Society for Ecological Restoration (SER) International’s then-Executive Director Don Falk and Trees for Life founder Alan Watson Featherstone. It was a grand idea about creating restoration projects worldwide but it was an idea whose time had not yet come. Later, in 2004, current SER International Executive Director MK LeFevour conducted a survey of professionals in the field and kept hearing the same complaint: “We feel like we’re constantly reinventing the wheel because there’s no central place to get the information we need about restoration.” 

LeFevour shared their frustration. Every day, the International Office received books, journals, conference programs, announcements, press releases, news stories and DVDs on restoration, yet she had no venue for sharing these rich resources with the rest of the field. At a meeting with Falk in 2004, they discussed the lack of one central place where practitioners could easily get the information and both came to the conclusion that a web portal would be the ideal solution.  Falk suggested using the moniker of Global Restoration Network for this future restoration clearinghouse. LeFevour agreed and was determined that the GRN become one of the Society’s top priorities. She believed it was vital that it be a free resource to anyone with an Internet connection. The Board of Directors wholeheartedly agreed that it was time for the Global Restoration Network to become a reality, and so LeFevour got to work.

Two years earlier, SER and the Plant Conservation Alliance, co-creators of an Expert Profile Database to help businesses, communities and government agencies locate qualified restoration professionals in their area, ran out of funding. Unfortunately, without the funds to keep it updated, the database quickly became stagnant.  SER Board member Lucinda Jackson–a restoration scientist for Chevron—stepped in and offered funding from Chevron to revitalize the database. Jackson knew the value of such a database from her own restoration work, and as she spoke with LeFevour the two realized that the database could become a cornerstone of the Global Restoration Network. Excited by the possibilities, Jackson pledged Chevron’s support as a Founding Sponsor of the Global Restoration Network, giving SER the initial funding needed to make the GRN a reality.

While that was taking place, SER Board Members George Gann and Carolina Murcia and long-time SER member David Lamb designed a restoration case study database as a collaborative project between SER and the IUCN’s Commission on Ecosystem Management, and the possibilities were tremendous. This was exactly the kind of information professionals were hungry to get their hands on. Reading about the successes, innovations and even failures of other peoples’ projects would allow them to create more sustainable restorations. In discussing how to get more and diverse case studies, Gann and LeFevour agreed that this groundbreaking database could become another cornerstone of the Global Restoration Network.  Gann was instrumental in converting the SER/IUCN case study database to its current iteration on the GRN.

Then-SER Board Chair Keith Bowers was a strong supporter of the GRN from the start, and his company, Biohabitats, Inc. became the second Founding Sponsor. With those funds, LeFevour was able, in 2006, to hire a full-time Project Director, Sasha Alexander, to start researching and writing annotations to links to “all things restoration.” Alexander quickly became an expert on restoration resources. He devised a user-friendly way to organize massive amounts of relevant material that could bring the relevant link or information to the GRN user within three mouse-clicks.  He and LeFevour shepherded the building of the site infrastructure by working with the MoiaGroup.

In the meantime, other forward-thinking organizations — Wiley/Blackwell Publishers, Island Press and the U.S. Forest Service  — added their support as Founding Sponsors of the Global Restoration Network, as well as the first Friends of the GRN:   The Institute for Regional Conservation, Anchor Environmental, Urban Forest Associates, JFNew, Bioengineering Group, Gerald and Neala Markowitz, and  Eijkelkemp Agrisearch Equipment.  With great anticipation, LeFevour and Alexander urged their computer programmers to hurry up and finish tweaking the architecture!

On March 15, 2007, www.GlobalRestorationNetwork.org went live. With a grant from the Temper of the Times Foundation, the Society was able to hire a professional PR firm to mount a print, web and email publicity campaign to drive visitors to the site. The GRN has already received more than one million hits as of Fall 2007.  More than 70 organizations have linked to the Global Restoration Network, and more add links every day.

Now that the GRN is a reality, SER’s current Board Chair, George Gann, is committed to allocating resources to make it even more robust. A 2007 grant from an anonymous foundation has allowed the Society to double the number of Case Studies in the database, and Gann hopes to quadruple that number in 2008. SER staff continues to refresh and update the site daily, and the Society is actively soliciting papers, links, case studies, expert profiles and any other relevant information to add to this free resource.

The Global Restoration Network should be cited as follows:

LeFevour, MK, L. Jackson, S. Alexander, G.D. Gann, C. Murcia, D. Lamb, and D.A. Falk. 2007. Global Restoration Network (www.GlobalRestorationNetwork.org). Society for Ecological Restoration International, Tucson, Arizona, USA.

A Message from SER International Executive Director MK LeFevour

Welcome to the Global Restoration Network: the first online portal to all things related to ecological restoration. Finally, individuals, businesses, governments and organizations who work on restoring the earth have a state-of-the-art resource to rely on. And best of all…the GRN is free and open to all.

We all know an impressive amount of restoration is happening around the world, but until now, there has been no central hub of information where everyone from practitioners to academics can compare notes, share successes, failures, tricks of the trade, and data. And while that invaluable information lies fallow, time, money and energy is wasted.

Help us keep the Global Restoration Network a vital resource for all:

* Submit your projects and papers to the GRN database. Easy-to-use online forms can be found in the Database section. Experts and organizations are also invited to submit their details.

* Submit Before and After photographs of your restoration projects. Help us illustrate the methods and goals of ecological restoration while receiving recognition for your hard work.

* Submit individual Country descriptions and analyses. Experienced researchers and practitioners are encouraged to visit the Countries section for more details.

* Become a Sponsor or a Friend of the Global Restoration Network.  Your tax-deductible contribution helps us grow this free resource.

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