Human Dimensions of Ecological Restoration

Part of the series Society for Ecological Restoration pp 23-38

Restoration and Stewardship Volunteerism

  • Marty LeeAffiliated withNorthern Arizona University Email author 
  • , Paul HancockAffiliated withNorthern Arizona University

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Recent scholars writing on the topic of ecological restoration propose a holistic view of ecosystem restoration wherein both ecosystem needs and human needs must be considered in the design and implementation of restoration projects. Such a view suggests that both ecosystems and restoration practitioners benefit from restoration projects (Higgs 2003; Clewell and Aronson 2006, 2007; Light 2008). Within this reciprocal relationship, humans contribute ecological knowledge, techniques, participation, and commitment that benefit degraded ecosystems (see chap. 18, this volume). Conversely, involvement in restoration projects contributes to human well-being in a variety of ways including restoring ecosystem values, such as biodiversity and natural capital. Such actions also provide participants with psychological, physiological, economic and spiritual benefits, including learning new things, connecting with the natural environment, earning a living, doing something worthwhile, making amends for human-caused environmental damage, and realizing personally renewing experiences (Miles, Sullivan, and Kuo 2000; Clewell and Aronson 2006; chap. 16, this volume). Geist and Galatowitsch (1999) among others suggest that, while critical to successful ecological restoration, scientific knowledge alone cannot ensure success. Ongoing human participation and commitment are critical to ensuring the long-term success and sustainability of restoration projects.