Nature by Design: People, Natural Process, and Ecological Restoration / Edition 1

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Ecological restoration is the process of repairing human damage to ecosystems. It involves reintroducing missing plants and animals, rebuilding soils,eliminating hazardous substances, ripping up roads, and returning natural processes such as fire and flooding to places that thrive on their regular occurrence.

Thousands of restoration projects take place in North America every year. In Nature by Design, Eric Higgs argues that profound philosophical and cultural shifts accompany these projects. He explores the ethical and philosophical bases of restoration and the question of what constitutes good ecological restoration.Higgs explains how and why the restoration movement came about, where it fits into the array of approaches to human relationships with the land, and how it might be used to secure a sustainable future. Some environmental philosophers and activists worry that restoration will dilute preservation and conservation efforts and lead to an even deeper technological attitude toward nature. They ask whether even well-conceived restoration projects are in fact just expressions of human will.

Higgs prefaces his responses to such concerns by distinguishing among several types of ecological restoration. He also describes a growing gulf between professionals and amateurs. Higgs finds much merit in criticism about technological restoration projects, which can cause more damage than they undo. These projects often ignore the fact that changing one thing in a complex system can change the whole system.

For restoration projects to be successful, Higgs argues, people at the community level must be engaged. These focal restorations bring communities together, helping volunteers develop a dedication to place and encouraging democracy.

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What People Are Saying

From the Publisher
"If you are looking for an up-to-date vision of environmental restoration that is both principled and pragmatic, read this book. Higgs's interweave of case studies and thoughtfully informed, multidisciplinary argument is all the stronger for its avoidance of easy answers."—Lawrence Buell, Harvard University, author of *The Environmental Imagination* and *Writing for an Endangered World*

" Nature by Design is a figurative compass indicating a direction that leads towards altered, healing relations between humankind and the larger, older, and increasingly fragile natural world. As Higgs notes, to dare set out on that course is as much a calling as a profession." Max Oelschlaeger, F.B.

McAllister Endowed Chair in Community, Culture, and Environment, Northern Arizona University, author of The Idea of Wilderness

" Nature by Design is a wonderful book—an eloquent, wise, and useful guide to the potentials and ambiguities of ecological restoration. By connecting nature, community, memory, and intention so artfully,Eric Higgs has redefined the field." David W. Orr, Environmental Studies Program,Oberlin College

"Nicholsen gives us an honest and creative account of the challenges we face as members of an ecologically dysfunctional society and the opportunities to heal ourselves and the world. Especially useful for instructors who've learned that ecological realism too often disempowers students instead of building capacities for personal and societal transformation."—Max Oelschlaeger, F.B. McAllister Endowed Chair in Community, Culture, and Environment, Northern Arizona University, author of The Idea of Wilderness

"*Nature by Design* is a figurative compass indicating a direction that leads towards altered, healing relations between humankind and the larger, older,and increasingly fragile natural world. As Higgs notes, to dare set out on that course is as much a calling as a profession."—Max Oelschlaeger, F.B. McAllister Endowed Chair in Community, Culture, and Environment, Northern Arizona University,author of The Idea of WildernessPlease note: The second sentence may be omitted for space reasons.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780262582261
  • Publisher: MIT Press
  • Publication date: 6/1/2003
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 357
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 9.00 (h) x 0.75 (d)

Meet the Author

Eric Higgs is Director of the School of Environmental Studies at the University of Victoria, Canada. He is Chair of the Board of Directors of the Society for Ecological Restoration.

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Table of Contents

List of Figures
Introduction 1
Outline of the Book 9
1 A Tale of Two Wildernesses: Jasper National Park, Meet Disney World 15
The Bear in the Kitchen 16
The Palisade 22
A Landscape of Threats 27
Freak Landscapes 35
Restoring an Idea or a Place? 40
Wilderness as Theme 46
Colonizing the Imagination 49
Celebration? 52
One Wilderness or Two? 55
2 Boundary Conditions 59
Florid(ian) Images 59
Meandering Ambitions: The Kissimmee River (Florida) Restoration 64
Beyond the Ecological Curtain: The Morava River Restoration, Slovak Republic 68
Gardening or Restoration? The Robert Starbird Dorney Garden, Ontario, Canada 73
Normal History 78
Contingency and Ideals 82
3 What is Ecological Restoration? 93
Words and Taxomony 96
The Duck Test 101
A Legacy of Definitions 107
Process and Product 110
Assisted Recovery 112
Management 116
Historical Range of Variability 118
Sustainable Cultural Practices 119
Ecological Integrity 122
The Evolution of Words and Worlds 124
4 Historicity and Reference in Ecological Restoration 131
Photographing the Past 132
Nostalgia 143
Narrative Continuity 145
Place 148
Time Depth 154
Reference Conditions 158
Taking History Seriously 170
5 Denaturing Restoration 179
Lines across the Path 179
Commodification 188
A Taut Line: What Kind of Science Do Ecological Restorationists Require? 195
The Commodification of Nature 203
The Commodification of Practice 206
The Promise and Problems of Ecological Restoration 214
6 Focal Restoration 225
Discovery Island 226
Ecocultural Restoration 236
Focal Restoration 241
Ritual and Restoration 249
Participation in Restoration 255
Landscape Coevolution 259
7 Nature by Design 265
Remembrances of Landscapes Past 265
The Ambiguity of Design 270
Wild Design 277
Restoration as Conversation: A Storied Landscape 285
Notes 291
Bibliography 321
Index 335
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