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Restored to Earth

Restored to Earth: Christianity, Environmental Ethics, and Ecological Restoration

Copyright Date: 2013
Pages: 224
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  • Book Info
    Restored to Earth
    Book Description:

    Ecological restoration integrates the science and art of repairing ecosystems damaged by human activities. Despite relatively little attention from environmental ethicists, restoration projects continue to gain significance, drawing on citizen volunteers and large amounts of public funds, providing an important model of responding to ecological crisis. Projects range from the massive, multi-billion dollar Kissimmee River project; restoring 25,000 acres of Everglades' wetlands; to the $30 million effort to restore selected wetlands in industrial Brownfield sites in Chicago's south side Lake Calumet area; to the reintroduction of tall grass prairie ecosystems in various communities in the Midwest. Restored to Earth provides the first comprehensive examination of the religious and ethical dimensions and significance of contemporary restoration practice, an ethical framework that advances the field of environmental ethics in a more positive, action-oriented, experience-based direction. Van Wieren brings together insights and examples from restoration ecology, environmental ethics, religious studies, and conservation and Christian thought, as well as her own personal experiences in ecological restoration, to propose a new restoration ethic grounded in the concrete, hands-on experience of humans working as partners with the land.

    eISBN: 978-1-58901-683-5
    Subjects: Religion, Philosophy

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. Preface
    (pp. vii-x)
  4. INTRODUCTION: From Wounded Land and Spirit to Healing Land and Spirit: The Significance of Ecological Restoration for Environmental Ethics
    (pp. 1-32)

    Environmentalists have long linked the modern environmental crisis with a crisis of the human spirit—of consciousness, the personal heart, or soul. Some thirty years ago essayist and poet Wendell Berry called the ecological crisis a crisis of character.¹ More recently, ecological theologian Mark I. Wallace writes that the global environmental crisis “is a matter of the heart, not the head . . . we no longer experience our co-belonging with nature in such a way that we are willing to alter our lifestyles in order to build a more sustainable future.”² What we need to do, proposes social ecologist...


    • CHAPTER ONE “Let There Be a Tree”: A Field Guide to Types of Ecological Restoration
      (pp. 35-54)

      Defining ecological restoration is not an easy task given that meanings are numerous and diverse, often varying dramatically from ecosystem to ecosystem and culture to culture. As a vernacular practice, perspectives on restoration shift according to the types of ecosystems (forest, grassland, wetland, river), degradations (deforestation, erosion, toxification, species loss), and repairs (bioreactivation, recontouring of land or waterways, reintroduction of native species, removal of exotics). Additionally, meanings vary depending on understandings of an ecosystem’s original or historic condition, the environmental features that are selected for regeneration, and the goals that are determined for a particular restoration project.

      Further complicating any...

    • CHAPTER TWO For the Sake of the Wild Others: Restoration Meanings for Nature
      (pp. 55-83)

      Defining what is and what counts as nature has been one of the main preoccupations of contemporary environmental ethicists. Depending on the philosopher one converses with, all biological life (Arne Naess), trees (Christopher Stone), sentient animals (Peter Singer), whole ecosystems (J. Baird Callicott and Holmes Rolston), and even larger bioregions (Peter Berg) count as part of nature and have value that makes certain moral claims on humans.¹ Religious environmental ethicists too have argued in favor of recognizing a moral status for parts and/or wholes within the nonhuman creation. In this case, however, the natural world and its beings hold intrinsic...

    • CHAPTER THREE Restoration of the Personal Heart: Toward a Spirituality of Environmental Action
      (pp. 84-112)

      It is a warm, late May day in Vermont and I am sitting around the kitchen table of Marty Illick, director of the Lewis Creek Association (LCA), eating a lunch of squash soup, tomatoes, and apples, all from Illick’s backyard garden. The LCA is a community-based organization that formed two decades ago in order to organize and educate residents regarding the restoration, protection, and care of the Lewis Creek watershed in central Vermont. Given the LCA’s reputation in Vermont conservation circles for working on watershed restoration from a holistic, cultural, and ecological perspective, I was meeting with Illick, along with...

    • CHAPTER FOUR Regenerating Communities of Place: Public Restoration Values
      (pp. 113-142)

      Key ecological, spiritual, and moral dimensions and implications of restoration practice and experience have begun to be sketched in previous chapters. Beyond these, however, there are communal and social aspects in restoration practice that need to be explored. Restoration, as we have seen, is a group activity, often involving a cadre of practitioners—restoration ecologists, landscape architects, volunteers, land managers, farmers—working collectively to implement particular goals and objectives. And although restoration efforts today run the risk of technological drift—that is, of becoming a practice dominated by professional restoration firms and scientific experts—they nonetheless continue to involve considerable...


    • CHAPTER FIVE Ecological Symbolic Action: Restoration as Sacramental Practice
      (pp. 145-169)

      In the previous chapter we explored some of the ways in which ecological restoration practice could serve as a context for developing vernacular communal values in relation to particular places. Further, we saw how some communities use restoration activities as a way to strengthen social connections between people and ecological connections with natural systems. In this chapter I examine how restoration functions as a form of symbolic action, as well as a type of social and ecological practice, in relation to healing damaged natural lands. Restoration may, in other words, attempt to regenerate healthier ecosystem processes and place-oriented communities, but...

    • CHAPTER SIX Re-Storying Earth, Re-Storied to Earth
      (pp. 170-188)

      In his classic book, The Dream of the Earth, Thomas Berry proposed that we are entering a new phase in human history: the ecological age. This age, different from previous historical eras such as sixteenth-century scientific discovery or eighteenth-century industrial expansion, would be marked by a “vision of a planet integral with itself throughout its spatial extent and its evolutionary sequence.”¹ Beyond simply reducing fuel use, modifying economic controls, or slightly reforming our education, the realization of this vision would require human psychological and cultural transformation on a planetary scale. It is not simply a matter of reducing our fuel...

  7. Bibliography
    (pp. 189-198)
  8. Index
    (pp. 199-208)