Social research in aquatic restoration projects
An introduction to the use social research methods to aid aquatic restoration projects.
River, lake, estuary or catchment restoration projects are usually carried out in catchments where most of the land is privately owned rather than in publically owned areas. This means that a successful outcome not only requires managing the ecological aspects but also the social dimension, in particular, local communities.
If the people in the area do not support the project then achieving restoration success is considerably harder, if not impossible. On the other hand, restoration goals that reflect the aspirations of the local community are much more likely to gain support and voluntary actions on private land to enhance restoration outcomes. Social research can add value through the insights it provides into local communities that assist in informing and guiding the overall restoration strategy.
The Restoration of Aquatic Ecosystems programme has applied social research methods in one of it case studies–Te Awa o Waitao Restoration Project. The links below summarise approaches to social research in a restoration context using the Waitao Project as an example.