Review: Making Nature Whole: A History of Ecological Restoration

Article excerpt

Review: Making Nature Whole: A History of Ecological Restoration By William R. Jordan III and George M. Lubick Reviewed by Byron Anderson DeKalb, Illinois, USA Jordan, William R., III and George M. Lubick. Making Nature Whole: A History of Ecological Restoration. Washington, DC: Island Press, 2011. 256 pp. ISBN: 978-1-59726-512-6 US $70 cloth; 978-1-59726-513-3 US $35 paper. Printed on recycled, acid-free paper.

Making Nature Whole is the story of ecological restoration primarily covering the closing decades of the 19th century to the current time. Ecological restoration is a human effort to recreate entire ecosystems. It represents "the deepest acknowledgment of the value of the ecosystems being restored" (p. 21), and is a "demanding test of allegiance to the notion of intrinsic value" (p. 209). The book initially focuses on six restoration projects, four in the United States and two in Australia that developed from the early years of the 20th century to the mid- 1930s. Explored are how these projects came about, who carried them out and why, and what has happened to this form of land management since the mid-1930s. While little restoration activity occurred between 1940 to the mid-1970s, since that time ecological restoration has been accepted as a formidable land management philosophy.

Ecological restoration goes beyond other restorative and conservation efforts that tend to treat land in an anthropocentric way, that is, as human habitat. Ecological restoration values nature for its own sake which implies an intrinsic value apart from man's own interests. The restoration gives species a right to exist on their own, unaided, and may include unappealing or dangerous species, such as poison ivy and rattle snakes. Ecological restoration is not without critics as many believe that restoration should not be undertaken unless it improves on the current condition of the land.

Ecological restoration was not a formalized land management technique in its early development, but rather evolved through numerous trial and error efforts by a diverse assortment of individuals, such as gardeners, scientists, and others. …