The time has come to bridge the gap between the discipline of restoration ecology and communities around the world attempting to restore the ecological integrity of their surrounding landscapes. The Society for Ecological Restoration International (SER) has designed the Community Restoration Network (CRN) to do just that. By providing practical knowledge, scientific understanding, and proven expertise, SER seeks to help meet the increasing needs of volunteer-driven, community-based ecological restoration projects around the world.

The mission of the CRN is to facilitate ecosystem and habitat restoration by helping local, grass-roots and indigenous communities, volunteers, and non-professionals understand the basic tenets of ecological restoration and providing them with the tools needed to fund, plan, staff, implement, and monitor effective restoration projects.


A Definition


Community-based restoration has been defined as: “A novel, grass roots approach that actively engages local communities in the ecological restoration of habitats.” (Peter Leigh, 2005) It can also be thought of as: A bottom-up approach involving both professionals and volunteers, which fosters environmental stewardship and enhances community sustainability with the aim of restoring vital ecosystem components (i.e. goods and services) and increasing broader-scale functionality and health.”


The Network


The CRN is a free online resource that will assist in the effective implementation of community-based restoration projects around the world.


The Restoration Toolkit is designed to serve as a comprehensive resource of science-based methods and techniques, accessible to volunteers and non-professional restoration practitioners, which will inform restoration planning, project implementation and long-term monitoring. The toolkit contains freely accessible handbooks, training manuals, step-by-step guides, and other educational materials that cover all facets of a restoration project as well as provide invaluable guidance to project planners and designers.


The Calendar of Events announces upcoming community workdays and volunteer events associated with community-based restoration projects and is intended to foster greater public awareness of and participation in local projects. Workshops, field trips, and training courses on restoration are also included. Project and volunteer coordinators are encouraged to keep the calendar up-to-date, please send all notices to


The Volunteer section provides an annotated listing of community-based projects with on-going volunteer opportunities and strives to connect interested volunteers with local projects in need of assistance. Project and volunteer coordinators can list their projects here and thereby broaden the pool of potential volunteers to aid them in their efforts.


The Funding Opportunities provides a comprehensive listing of public and private funders that award grants to community-based environmental projects as well as a number of helpful resources offering grantwriting tips, fundraising strategies and guidance for long-term financial planning. This is an ideal place for community groups and organizations to begin their search for the funding resources that will ultimately sustain their projects.


Select References


California Coastal Commission (2008) Digging in: A guide to community-based habitat restoration. San Francisco, California


Ecological Restoration Institute (2005) Community-based forest restoration in the Southwest: A needs assessment. Northern Arizona University, Flagstaff, Arizona


Hart, David D. (2002) Roles for scientists in community-based ecological restoration. BioScience 52(8):643


Interagency Workgroup on Wetland Restoration (2003) An Introduction and User’s Guide to Wetland Restoration, Creation, and Enhancement’s%20Guide%20to%20Wetland%20Restoration,%20Creation%20and%20Enhancement.pdf


Leigh, Peter (2005) The ecological crisis, the human condition, and community-based restoration as an instrument for its cure. Ethics in Science and Environmental Politics, p 3-15


Reeve, Todd, Jim Lichatowich, William Towey, and Angus Duncan (2006) Building science and accountability into community-based restoration: Can a new funding approach facilitate effective and accountable restoration? Fisheries 31(1):17-24


Skabelund, Lee R., G.M. Kondolf, Craig W. Johnson, and Allegra Bukojemsky (2008) Successful ecological restoration: A framework for planning/design professionals. Landscape Architecture Technical Information Series Number 2, American Society of Landscape Architects


U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (2008) Handbook for developing watershed plans to restore and protect our water. EPA document number: EPA 841-B-08-002


U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Coastal Management Branch (2005) Community-based watershed management: Lessons from the National Estuary Program. EPA document number: EPA-842-B-05-003

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