Towards effective ecological restoration: investigating knowledge co-production on fish-habitat relationships with aquatic habitat Toronto.

Published online
17 Jan 2023
Content type
Journal article
Journal title
Ecological Solutions and Evidence

Piczak, M. L. & Anderton, R. & Cartwright, L. A. & Little, D. & MacPherson, G. & Matos, L. & McDonald, K. & Portiss, R. & Riehl, M. & Sciscione, T. & Valere, B. & Wallace, A. M. & Young, N. & Doka, S. E. & Midwood, J. D. & Cooke, S. J.
Contact email(s)

Publication language
Canada & Ontario


(1). For decades, the working paradigm for ecological restoration was independent operation of knowledge generators (researchers and scientists) and knowledge users (decision makers and practitioners), resulting in a knowledge-action gap. Knowledge co-production is a collaborative process where research is conducted in a respectful and engaging manner with continuous knowledge exchange and heralded as ameans of bridging the divide. (2). Aquatic Habitat Toronto (AHT) is a unique consensus-based partnership with diversemember agencies that engage in restoration ecology and practice along the Toronto Waterfront of Lake Ontario, Canada. Here, we examine the process that AHT uses to enable knowledge co-production and identify associated benefits and challenges. (3). Benefits to AHT's consensus-based partnership include advanced notice of projects, access to diverse expertise and local knowledge, increased understanding of fish habitat, adoption of novel restoration techniques and more effective restoration and improved knowledge exchange, collectively mitigating the knowledge-action divide. (4). Challenges of knowledge co-production facilitated by AHT include consistent agency participation and meaningful engagement, closed or exclusive networks, time commitments and limited financial resources, evolving political landscapes, stability of funding cycles and issues stemming from varying goals and relevancy. (5). Key recommendations for ensuring that knowledge co-production results in actionable science and for maximizing the effectiveness of ecological restoration using AHT's format include securing long-term and stable funding, developing relationships across agencies and allied partners, engaging early, outlining goals/objectives collaboratively, conducting before and after scientific monitoring, minimizing personal biases, periodically reviewing partnerships to maximize inclusivity, sharing successes (and failures) broadly, and providing open data. AHT embraces an approach that includes integrated planning with multi-jurisdictional support with diverse partners at a tractable scale and we argue that this should be the standard model of aquatic ecosystem management.

Key words