Tuesday, December 14, 2004

The papers discussed by Katz and Light were both focused on the social, cultural and political factors behind restoration, but they were deficient in the “hard” science behind restoration. I have been asked to suggest some scientific based papers to help support the arguments made by these gentlemen. I’ll begin with Katz. Katz’s paper entitled “Another look at restoration: technology and artificial nature” combated the notion that restoration is, in fact, natural. Katz argues that once nature is subjugated to human intervention/intention then that natural entity becomes a human artifact.
Katz argues that restoration is not an analogue of nature and that a restored area or system is not the same as a natural one. In fact he believes that restoration actually devalues natural entities. To provide a scientific backing to this argument I would have included information from the paper by Stanturf et al. (2001). The paper discusses myths associated with restoration success. One especially pertinent myth with regards to Katz’s argument would be restoration could proceed with out management. Katz claimed that restoration is not a natural entity but rather a human artifact. He also claimed that there is some truth in saying that nature can “restore” itself, but not really because it can never have the same origin, historical continuity or authenticity once it has been affected by humans. Stanturf et al. (2001) claimed that restoration cannot proceed without management and they gave scientific backings to corroborate this claim. Katz could have used this to further prove that restoration is a result of human intervention; a restored area needs humans to manage it to be successful. If humans are needed to actively manage an area then nature has not been restored and furthermore the continuation of human intervention supports the idea that restoration is a human artifact and not a natural entity.
Light’s article “Ecological restoration and the culture of nature: a pragmatic perspective” discusses views of Katz and Elliot on the ethics of restoration. Light differs in opinion from Katz and views ecological restoration differently. Light believes that there is value in restoration and that in can improve a degraded area and he even concedes and agrees that restoration can be considered artificial. To add scientific support to the idea that restoration can have positive content can also be supported by the Stanturf et al (2001) paper, I would include ideas from the myth: desired future condition can be specified. Stanturf et al. (2001) describe how that even though a future condition cannot be specified function can be restored to an ecosystem. According to Light this replacement of function to a degraded site would be positive content resulting from a restoration. The site would contain value it would otherwise not have prior to restoration efforts.
Katz discusses ideas from Robert Elliot in his paper including that Elliot’s type-restoration ideas are really the same as the “replacement thesis.” Katz disagrees with the replacement thesis, as he does not believe that humans can restore/replace nature to a pre-human intervention condition. The paper by Zedler and Callaway (1999) discusses the ability of wetland mitigation restorations to follow a restoration trajectory and I believe that Katz could have included information from this paper to add a scientific basis for his arguments. Zedler and Callaway discuss the restoration of highly degraded sites and that there are many factors that interfere with ecosystem development. They also state that it is unlikely that such sites will follow a trajectory or meet goals because of high interannual variation. Katz could have used their findings to confirm his belief that humans cannot restore or create nature. The fact that these mitigation sites did not meet expectations and did not show promise of doing so in a timely manner would emphasize Katz view that humans do not have the ability to create or rather, re-create nature.
Light discussing Katz describes how one of Katz’s problems with restoration is it restricts nature from “self-realization.” Light sees this as Katz confusing restoration with mitigation. Light (2000) states, “that it is nonanthropocentric nature that sets goals for restoration, not humans.” On the contrary, mitigation is humans setting the goals for restoration. In the paper by Zedler and Callaway (1999) there is discussion about a mitigation site and its success. Light could use the results from this paper to prove scientifically that mitigation sites are different from other restoration and that there success is much harder to achieve and that they can be, and often are, created in areas where nature is not the designer. He then could use an example from another paper where restoration did succeed to further show the dichotomy between restoration and mitigation sites.
Katz throughout his paper emphasizes the danger of human hubris and the human belief that they can do anything, including the ecological restoration of nature. He makes the point several times that humans cannot restore nature and are only creating artifacts. To add a scientific base for this argument I would include the paper by N.R. Webb (1997), which spoke of restoring the Dorset heathlands. The paper deals with the best ways to approach restoration including practical and ecological considerations. Some of the questions it asks are whether to provide corridors for unlinked populations, minimize edge on existing patches, enhancing areas surrounding patches, et cetera. These questions are provided to develop a framework for ecological restoration. Katz could use this to support his argument. The fact that one would have to consider what type of restoration to perform, instead of a complete restoration due to myriad factors would prove the restoration does not restore nature. Nature would not have to ask permission to restore. This shows, scientifically, the shortcomings of humans in their ability to restore they cannot restore everything and have to prioritize aspects of nature over each other.
Light makes the argument that even if restorations are an artifact they can bear a resemblance to the “real thing.” He believes that if people, ecologists, restoratioinsts, et cetera actually partake in restoration efforts it would have the reverse of what Katz would consider humans domination over nature. If people experience first hand restoring nature and saw what human domination and harm has done to a degraded site they can better understand what causes this harm and how to object to it. Using results from the N.R. Webb (1997) paper Light could show how restoration efforts such as these could help connect people with nature, or the as he call is the “culture of nature.” Webb described the Dorest heathlands as being 85% destroyed by either agriculture or other development. With a decrease in farming land has become available to restore. Webb discusses the need to use all facets of populations, communities, and ecosystems to develop a useful criterion for ecological restoration. This approach at developing a criteria using scientific merit would enhance Light’s argument that this would help people become connected with nature and understand what degrades and what needs to be done to prevent further degradation.
Both authors make strong arguments that could appeal to a variety of audiences. However, the addition of pure science examples would enrich their arguments and expand their influence into a more bounteous audience. I believe that the suggestions I have made would allow for such an influx.

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