Clewell, A.F. & J. Aronson 2006.
Conservation Biology 20: 420-428.
The reasons ecosystems should be restored are numerous, disparate, generally understated, and commonly underappreciated. We offer a typology in which these reasons - or motivations - are ordered among five rationales: technocratic, biotic, heuristic, idealistic, and pragmatic. The technocratic rationale encompasses restoration that is conducted by government agencies or other large organizations to satisfy specific institutional missions and mandates. The biotic rationale for restoration is to recover lost aspects of local biodiversity. The heuristic rationale attempts to elicit or demonstrate ecological principles and biotic expressions. The idealistic rationale consists of personal and cultural expressions of concern or atonement for environmental degradation, reengagement with nature, and/or spiritual fulfilment. The pragmatic rationale seeks to recover or repair ecosystems for their capacity to provide a broad array of natural services and products upon which human economies depend and to counteract extremes in climate caused by ecosystem loss. We propose that technocratic restoration, as currently conceived and practiced, is too narrow in scope and should be broadened to include the pragmatic rationale whose overarching importance is just beginning to be recognized. We suggest that technocratic restoration is too authoritarian, that idealistic restoration is overly restricted by lack of administrative strengths, and that a melding of the two approaches would benefit both. Three recent examples are given of restoration that blends the technocratic, idealistic, and pragmatic rationales and demonstrates the potential for a more unified approach. The biotic and heuristic rationales can be satisfied within the contexts of the other rationales.
Key words: climate change, ecological restoration, natural capital.