land acquisition, it seems certain that some land not soon acquired will be developed or become significantly more expensive before the two-decade acquisition program can be completed. Protecting the potential for restoration, i.e., protecting the land, is essential for successful restoration.
Recommendation 1. Preservation of the remaining areal extent of the potential natural system should be a priority. Land should be purchased or conservation easements should be obtained now to prevent additional loss of land to development and to provide a buffer between the built and natural environments. (Chapter 3.)
Finding 2. A restoration as ambitious and complex as the Everglades Restoration Plan has the potential to allow–and perhaps even cause–irreversible changes to the Everglades ecosystem as it proceeds. Some processes of deterioration might continue to an undesirable endpoint before the restoration is complete, and in some cases, it is possible that an intermediate stage between current conditions and the restoration goal could result in additional damage.
Recommendation 2. Efforts should be made to prevent irreparable damage to the ecosystem during the restoration. The focus should be on interim changes in the system as well as the end point of the restoration to avoid losses in the short-term that will prevent ecosystem restoration in the long term. (Chapter 3.)
Finding 3. Some aspects of the restoration are likely to benefit the target ecosystem components while adversely affecting others, at least until the restoration is completed. In other cases, finite resources and other factors are likely to lead to differing restoration goals for different parts of the ecosystem and among different stakeholders.
Recommendation 3. Methods should be developed to allow tradeoffs to be assessed over broad spatial and long temporal scales, especially for the entire ecosystem. Development of methods now, such as the system performance indicator described in Chapter 5, will allow alternatives to be tested quickly and modifications to the restoration to be developed when surprises do occur. (Chapters 3, 4, and 5.)
Finding 4. It is likely that some components of the Restoration Plan will be more costly or less effective than envisioned. The high degree of uncertainty associated with all phases (economic, social, political, engineering, and ecological) of the Restoration Plan necessitates the allocation of significant effort to establishment of alternative approaches to restoration (contingency planning). Even if the Restoration Plan “gets the water right,” there are circumstances that might prevent restoration of the Everglades to the conditions envisioned by the plan. The multi-species recovery plan, efforts to eradicate invasive species, changes in water-quality legislation, and many other factors may have major influences on the restoration effort.
Recommendation 4. In addition to the contingency planning that already is being undertaken, more intensive and extensive planning should be pursued. In particular, options such as those discussed in Chapter 4 should be considered for using the Everglades Agricultural Area and Lake Okeechobee as elements of the Restoration Plan in ways that are not now part of the plan. Any such change in the use of EAA and Lake Okeechobee should be undertaken using adaptive management, and it has the potential to bring ecological benefits earlier. (Chapter 4.)