Ecological restoration, the attempt to guide damaged ecosystems back to a previous, usually healthier or more natural, condition, is rapidly gaining recognition as one of the most promising approaches to conservation. In this book, William R. Jordan III, who coined the term "restoration ecology," and who is widely respected as an intellectual leader in the field, outlines a vision for a restoration-based environmentalism that has emerged from his work over twenty-five years.
Drawing on a provocative range of thinkers, from anthropologists Victor Turner, Roy Rappaport, and Mary Douglas to literary critics Frederick Turner, Leo Marx, and R.W.B. Lewis, Jordan explores the promise of restoration, both as a way of reversing environmental damage and as a context for negotiating our relationship with nature.
Exploring restoration not only as a technology but also as an experience and a performing art, Jordan claims that it is the indispensable key to conservation. At the same time, he argues, restoration is valuable because it provides a context for confronting the most troubling aspects of our relationship with nature. For this reason, it offers a way past the essentially sentimental idea of nature that environmental thinkers have taken for granted since the time of Emerson and Muir.
“Like all enduring popular movements, environmentalism has been propelled by seminal thinkers and action figures. A century ago John Muir and Theodore Roosevelt got the ball rolling with their ardent championing of wilderness preserves and wildlife protection. Fifty years later Rachel Carson's Silent Spring helped expand the movement to include pollution and public health issues. Then there are the many and varied stars, from Aldo Leopold to David Brower to E. O. Wilson, whose legendary achievements have rallied millions to nature's cause. At some point, William Jordan, the intellectual leader of a relatively new but influential discipline—ecological restoration—is likely to join this pantheon.”—Audubon Magazine
"Elevating ecological restoration beyond the basic technical aspects to encompass ethical and social considerations, Jordan forges an ambitious model for solving the environmental challenges that threaten native habitats."—Booklist
“Jordan eschews the dogma of many modern environmentalists and moves beyond the limitations of the oft-cited and revered environmental thinkers.”—J. Cummings Choice: Current Reviews For Academic Libraries
“This challenging book makes an important contribution to the philosophy of habitat restoration.”—C.J. Stevens Environment & History
“Argues that [ecological restoration is] vital to the preservation of the Earth’s ecosystems, and to ourselves.... Thanks to Jordan’s compelling and wide-ranging argument, we learn that [restoration] also is central to the project of being human.”—Orion
"Ecological restoration is one of today's most constructive, hopeful, and provocative environmental movements, and William Jordan III is its leading visionary."—Michael Pollan, author of The Botany of Desire
"This profoundly provocative and challenging book proposes nothing less than to change the focus of the American and indeed global environmental movement from ‘defense’ to ‘offense.’ It offers a bold, positive replacement for the thinking that has underlain the conservation and preservation movements from their beginnings. In fact, it makes a convincing argument for an altogether new relation between human beings and the natural environment."—Ernest Callenbach, author of Ecotopia
"In this remarkable book, Bill Jordan, the preeminent philosopher of ecological restoration, essays nothing less than mooting the distinction between nature and culture. An argument so brilliant that it’s a work of art, The Sunflower Forest envisions evolution, ecosystems, and human action as integral, dynamic, and harmonious. Sage, erudite, and original, The Sunflower Forest is bound to provoke and inspire."—Stephanie Mills, author of In Service of the Wild: Restoring and Reinhabiting Damaged Land
"In a world where Nature is on the defensive and natural habitats shrink by the minute, ecological restoration offers the only hope for many species and ecosystems. As Bill Jordan explains in his wonderful new book, our taking the offensive to reclaim damaged lands, also restores our spirits."—Stuart Pimm, Doris Duke Chair of Conservation Ecology, Duke University
"The Sunflower Forest
is a highly original, thoughtful, and provocative argument for restoration as a new environmental paradigm. Jordan is a serious intellectual. The book captivated me—it could be the 'must read' book of the year."—Max Oelschlaeger, Ecological Restoration Institute, Northern Arizona University