Urban Futures: Critical Commentaries on Shaping the City

By Malcolm Miles; Tim Hall | Go to book overview

9

Landscape, Ecology, Art and Change

TIM COLLINS AND REIKO GOTO1


INTRODUCTION

Restoration ecology is the emerging paradigmatic relationship of humanity to nature. It has occurred in response to the industrial revolution and its massive programme utilising nature as both raw material and sink for wastes. Restoration ecology establishes a new relationship to nature by addressing a range of damaged land and water systems in both urban and rural settings. Restoration ecology is a community of disciplines, which acts upon natural systems through the sciences and engineering; and upon cultural values through the arts and humanities.

If we are going to restore ecosystems, practitioners must engage nature through primary experience. Restoration ecology redirects the concepts of agriculture and gardening, to a programme of healing nature. Restoration ecology emerges from a culture that is beginning to recognise its detrimental effect on nature, and is seeking new ways to understand and act upon a range of post-industrial problems. In the following pages, We will explore ideas of applied and cultural ecologies. We will conclude with a manifesto, which places art and ecology (eco-art) in the midst of the radical human ecologies and social-environmental change.


APPLIED ECOLOGIES

Preservation, conservation, and restoration ecology

Restoration ecology is a logical outcome of the projects of conservation and preservation. Preservation and conservation emerged in the years around the turn of the twentieth century in response to growth and development in the American West. Preservation began with the aesthetic/scientific interests of botanisers and gardeners in the subject of trees. Organised groups at that time helped to establish Arbor Day and promoted a plan for national forest preserves. This interest in nature was fuelled by the writings of the naturalist/authors Emerson, Thoreau and Muir. A popular movement, preservation was soon balanced by a more practical and scientific voice. The project of conservation has been described by Samuel Hays (1959:123) as 'efficiency in the development and use of all natural resources'. Established during Theodore Roosevelt's presidency, conservation was defined by Gifford Pinchot and others as a rational approach to land management.

Conservation theory was rooted in an engineering approach to applied knowledge. The ultimate goal was properly to inventory all natural resources prior to a planned development intended to achieve efficient use and minimise waste. This is still the focus of conservation biologists worldwide who inventory natural communities and their movements, then manage habitat so that select species

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