Environmental Restoration: Ethics, Theory, and Practice. . – Books of Note – book review
edited by William Throop; Humanity Books, Amherst, N.Y., 2000; 200 pp., $22.95 paper (ISBN 1-57392-818-6)
William Throop has collected articles written by philosophers, biologists, and restorationists that address fundamental questions of value related to the goals, means, and attitudes surrounding restoration, which the editor describes as among the major environmental issues to be addressed in the twenty-first century. Contributors are well-known and lesser-known writers, including Stanley Kane, Robert Elliot, Marguerite Holloway, Andrew Light, Steve Packard, and Donald Sherer.
Articles were chosen to convey differences in perspective that surround the many issues introduced by environmental restoration. To some writers, the very notion of environmental restoration is misleading because it relies upon human intervention and is therefore artificial rather than genuine. Other writers see restoration as part of the general movement toward a sustainable environment. These supporters of restoration view human-induced changes in nature as unavoidable and not necessarily bad. They envision the human/nature relationship as a mutual exchange and maintain that problems arise when nature is overused.
Even given the desirability of restoration, many questions remain. What are the appropriate goals of restoration? To what previous state should nature be restored? Should restoration be self-sustaining, or need it rely on the continual help of restorers? Among the most engaging articles in the book are those that deal with the impact of restoration not just on nature but also on the people who do the restoring. Stephanie Mills and William Jordan III, in very different articles, describe the community-building effects of participation in restoration projects. They envision the process as one in which people learn to relate better to nature on a number of levels, including scientific, practical, and spiritual.
While all of the articles are already available, this collection serves as a convenient way to access key literature in this field and as an excellent reader for undergraduate and graduate classes. For better or worse, environmental restoration seems to be here to stay, and it would behoove environmental scholars and practitioners to grapple with the tough value and ethics issues that environmental restoration introduces.
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