Restoring to the future: environmental, cultural, and management trade-offs in historical versus hybrid restoration of a highly modified ecosystem.
With growing calls to scale up reforestation efforts worldwide, conservation managers increasingly must decide whether and how to restore highly altered ecosystems. However, empirical research on potential trade-offs remains scarce. We use a Hawai'i watershed to demonstrate a collaborative, interdisciplinary approach to identifying synergies and trade-offs associated with maintaining an unrestored forest, versus restoration to a historical or hybrid (native and non-native plant species) state. We focused on restoration scenarios designed by conservation managers and measured ecological, hydrologic, and cultural outcomes they identified as important metrics of success. The hybrid restoration scenario maximized potential outcomes at moderate cost, and increased two rarely measured but often critical metrics to managers and communities: cultural value and resilience to disturbance. Hybrid restoration approaches developed collaboratively can provide a viable option for scaling up restoration in island ecosystems and other contexts where invasive species pose significant challenges and/or where community support is important.