Post-Project Appraisals in Adaptive Management of River Channel Restoration
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Post-project appraisals (PPAs) can evaluate river restoration schemes in relation to their compliance with design, their short-term performance attainment, and their longer-term geomorphological compatibility with the catchment hydrology and sediment transport processes. PPAs provide the basis for communicating the results of one restoration scheme to another, thereby improving future restoration designs. They also supply essential performance feedback needed for adaptive management, in which management actions are treated as experiments. PPAs allow river restoration success to be defined both in terms of the scheme attaining its performance objectives and in providing a significant learning experience. Different levels of investment in PPA, in terms of pre-project data and follow-up information, bring with them different degrees of understanding and thus different abilities to gauge both types of success. We present four case studies to illustrate how the commitment to PPA has determined the understanding achieved in each case. In Moore's Gulch (California, USA), understanding was severely constrained by the lack of pre-project data and post-implementation monitoring. Pre-project data existed for the Kitswell Brook (Hertfordshire, UK), but the monitoring consisted only of one site visit and thus the understanding achieved is related primarily to design compliance issues. The monitoring undertaken for Deep Run (Maryland, USA) and the River Idle (Nottinghamshire, UK) enabled some understanding of the short-term performance of each scheme. The transferable understanding gained from each case study is used to develop an illustrative five-fold classification of geomorphological PPAs (full, medium-term, short-term, one-shot, and remains) according to their potential as learning experiences. The learning experience is central to adaptive management but rarely articulated in the literature. Here, we gauge the potential via superimposition onto a previous schematic representation of the adaptive management process by Haney and Power (1996). Using PPAs wisely can lead to cutting-edge, complex solutions to river restoration challenges.
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