William Jordan (1994)

"Sunflower Forest: Eco Restoration a Basis for a New Environmental Paradigm"



2.      Gardening is a healthy paradigm/metaphor for the relation between humans and rest of nature

         a.      Handles nature with respect

         b.      Without self-abnegation (self-denial) (or humility?)

         c.      Manipulates nature intelligently and creatively

                   i.       To “manipulate nature” is a healthy relation to it??

         d.      It benefits and nurtures plants and animals

         e.      Exercise wide range of human abilities

         f.       Leaves a distinctively human mark on landscape

         g.      A basis of communion with other species

3.      Restoration is gardening of wild nature

         a.      Reconstruction and maintenance of wild nature

4.      Ecosystem construction involves creative and conservative poles

         a.      Creative pole: traditional forms of agriculture, construct ecosystems and create/invent new ones

         b.      Conservative pole: eco-restoration which recreates historic landscapes

5.      Restoration as a type of ecosystem construction makes for a good target for Katz's restored ecosystems are artifacts criticism



7.      Jordan is criticizing traditional environmentalism (that is preservationism) as much as defending restoration

         a.      Katz and Elliott embrace preservationism

8.      Differences between preservation and restoration as environmental philosophies

         a.      Preservation definition: Conserving natural systems by preventing human influence on them

                   i.       Ideal is wilderness preservation

         b.      Restoration definition: Conserving natural systems by active human influence of restoration

9.      Jordan’s criticisms of preservation

10.    One: Can't stop living ecosystems from changing (and preservation attempts this)

         a.      Worry: This is a false view of preservation: It's goal is not to freeze frame nature, but let nature change on its own; preserve natural processes, not a status quo

11.    Two: Can't prevent ES (change) from reflecting human influence

         a.      Preservationism ignores this influence instead of acknowledging and correcting for it

         b.      Worry: Not clear a small degree of influence is a problem that requires restoration

12.    Three: Inevitably all ecosystems will be so degraded by human influence that management/restoration is needed

         a.      Because everything is hitched to everything else, in the final analysis, all historic ecosystems will be virtually eliminated by human activity, as have the prairies and oak openings around Chicago

         b.      Thus they all will need to be restored

         c.      Worry: This seems like a false empirical claim if this means a high degree of human influence (this is not inevitable)

                   i.       Removing exotics from national parks like Yellowstone is a far cry from restoring/recreating) oak savannas like Packard is doing at Cap Saeurs

                   ii.      If restoration includes light management, then no dispute between preservationists and restorationists, as preservation has no problem with minor human interventions like pulling out a few exotic weeds

13.    Four: Preservation puts a distance between humans and nature

         a.      Preservation claims that real nature is wilderness and wilderness is a place humans are visitors who don't remain

14.    Five: Ideal of nature for preservationism is wilderness untrammeled by man

         a.      A human/nature apartheid!

15.    Six: Preservation offers a severely limited relation to nature

         a.      Minimal impact ethics: take only pictures, leave only footprints

         b.      Largely non-participatory

                   i.       People's role confined to visitor/observer of nature, rather than active element in community

16.    Seven: Preservation is concern almost solely for the land and almost none for human participant

         a.      Worry: But human concerns are dominant everyplace else already

17.    Eight: Healthy relation to nature not possible under this vision

         a.      For a healthy relation to nature must be participatory, ecological, and engage all human abilities

         b.      Worry: Is Jordan saying preservation can be no part of a healthy relation to nature, or that if taken as the only appropriate relationship, it is unhealthy?

                   i.       Env. preservation is trouble only when it is taken as the sole model of humans relation; for it provides no model for future sustainable human society

                   ii.      Given human degradation/domination of planet today, preservation's focus on minimal impact on remaining wildland is an appropriate role for today



19.    Restoration involves:

20.    One: Humans as direct participants in ecology (like a muskrat/beaver), a maker of marsh, not mere observer

         a.      Humans influencing, shaping nature, a direct participant like a muskrat

         b.      Humans achieve full citizenship in biotic community, not just plain members/citizens or minor players

         c.      Full citizenship for humans: humans are the nervous system, in charge (this is Turner, and not Jordan?)

21.    Two: A constructive process involving a positive attitude (not the essentially negative attitude of preservation environmentalism)

         a.      Move from too many people loving nature to death (preservation)

         b.      To not enough people to keep up with restoration

         c.      Restoration will be the principle outdoor activity in next century

22.    Three: A re-inhabitation of nature

         a.      Conversion of nature from environment into habitat for human beings

         b.      Worry: Totally anthropocentric (human-centered: Where is the role for nonhumans here)?

23.    Four: A re-inhabitation without having to repudiate achievements of civilization or abandon its accouterments (furnishings or accessories) of civilization

         a.      No return to primitivism needed to re-inhabit nature

         b.      Easy to imagine reentering nature by shredding "what we have learned on our way to the moon" (Loren Eisley), that is, culture

         c.      But this leaves behind most of what makes us humans

         d.      Worries: There is something right about this critique of primitivism, but

                   i.       Is Jordan suggestion that

                            (1)    No reduction is needed in our wasteful, consumptive lifestyles?

                            (2)    No change needed from environmentally-harmful to environmentally-friendly technology?

                   ii.      Shouldn't Jordan acknowledge that we need to abandon our env. unfriendly technologies (e.g., fossil fuel transportation/agriculture), and move to a sustainable civilization?



         a.      Must involve a working relation with nature

         b.      Must involve an economic transaction with genuine exchange of goods/services

                   i.       Worry? Why must it be economic? Best relations economic? True our relation with nature must be economic in the sense we need its goods to survive

                   ii.      Rather than traditional environmental ideals, such as picture taking and hiking a more economic approach would be hunting and or berry/mushroom picking

         c.      Must be a positive, reciprocal, mutually beneficial relation; taking and giving back

                   i.       Worry: How do we give back? (E.g., Spraying our waste water back on fields?)



26.    Preservationists worry about any human influence on ecosystems, restorationists only worry about human influence that damages ecosystems

27.    Preservationists might argue that a certain amount human influence is better left alone than using a much larger degree of human influence to remove it, because preservationists are concerned with minimizing human influence itself

28.    Jordan and other restorationists are worried about only the damaging effects of human influence and getting rid of that

         a.      For Jordan, it doesn't matter how much ongoing human influence you need, as long as the product resembles historic ecosystems you want to restore

Question of Jordan, "Sunflower Forest: Eco Restoration a Basis for a New Environmental Paradigm" (Many of these overlap with the questions on Hettinger’s presentation about Restoration as a Paradigm for the Human /Nature Relation)


1.         How does Jordan use the gardening metaphor to describe restoration? Is gardening a helpful way to think of the appropriate human relation to nature?

2.         Explain the difference between preservationism and restorationism as ways of relating to nature.

3.         What would preservationists say in response to Jordan’s criticism that you can’t stop natural systems from changing.

4.         Explain Jordan’s criticism that preservationism foster a human/nature apartheid. Is this an accurate and fair criticism on your view?

5.         Why does Jordan think preservation offers a severely limited and unhealthy relation to nature? Is he right?

6.         Why does Jordan think restoration, in contrast to preservation, is a health relationship to nature? What features does it have that support this claim?

7.         What does Jordan mean when he says a healthy relationship to nature must be ecological?

8.         Must a healthy relation to nature be economic? Involve work? Involve a giving back to nature? How could humans give back to nature?

9.         Is human influence on nature itself problematic or is it only human influence that damages nature that is problematic? Which of these views is help by restorationists? By preservationists?