Skip to main content

Ecological Restoration in Support of Sustainability Transitions: Repairing the Planet in the Anthropocene

  • Chapter
  • First Online:
Introduction to Designing Environments


In the Anthropocene it is widely recognized that we need to embrace the concept of sustainable transitions. Strangely, ecological restoration is entirely decoupled from the concept of sustainability transitions. We argue that alongside radical changes in socio-technical systems that define sustainability transitions there will also be a need to conduct extensive ecological restoration. Indeed, that would in and of itself represent a major transition – normalizing ecological restoration where ecosystems that are degraded are restored. We are considering actions needed to have ecological restoration become a part of the radical change that defines sustainability transitions including: Learn and refine as we do restoration; Embrace bold and creative ideas; Adopt a design and systems-thinking approach; View restoration as a complement than a safety net; Work with nature; Create opportunities for massive engagement; Bridge science and practice; Ensure that restoration is equitable and just; Insert restoration into social-technical systems; Invest in restoration and sustainability transitions. Sustainability transitions alone have the potential to limit further ecosystem degradation but will not repair the planet. Similarly, focusing solely on restoration is a losing battle without changing societal relationships with the environment. We conclude that restoration of ecosystems can be done in tandem with sustainability transitions to attain greater and prolonged benefit to achieve a good Anthropocene for the planet and its peoples.

This is a preview of subscription content, log in via an institution to check access.

Access this chapter

USD 29.95
Price excludes VAT (USA)
  • Available as PDF
  • Read on any device
  • Instant download
  • Own it forever
USD 139.00
Price excludes VAT (USA)
  • Available as EPUB and PDF
  • Read on any device
  • Instant download
  • Own it forever
Hardcover Book
USD 179.99
Price excludes VAT (USA)
  • Durable hardcover edition
  • Dispatched in 3 to 5 business days
  • Free shipping worldwide - see info

Tax calculation will be finalised at checkout

Purchases are for personal use only

Institutional subscriptions


Download references


Several coauthors are supported by the Natural Science and Engineering Research Council of Canada and a Knowledge Synthesis Grant from the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada. TH is supported by DFG - German Research Foundation (project number HE 5893/8–1). We are grateful to the Indigenous peoples who are the stewards of the lands and waters where we work, study and live.

Author information

Authors and Affiliations


Corresponding author

Correspondence to Steven J. Cooke .

Editor information

Editors and Affiliations

Rights and permissions

Reprints and permissions

Copyright information

© 2023 The Author(s), under exclusive license to Springer Nature Switzerland AG

About this chapter

Check for updates. Verify currency and authenticity via CrossMark

Cite this chapter

Cooke, S.J. et al. (2023). Ecological Restoration in Support of Sustainability Transitions: Repairing the Planet in the Anthropocene. In: Hensel, M.U., Sunguroğlu Hensel, D., Binder, C.R., Ludwig, F. (eds) Introduction to Designing Environments. Designing Environments. Springer, Cham.

Download citation

Publish with us

Policies and ethics