Environmental Philosophy

Volume 4, Issue 1/2, Spring/Fall 2007

Special Double Issue: Environmental Aesthetics and Ecological Restoration

Glenn Deliège
Pages 135-147

Toward a Richer Account of Restorative Practices

In this paper, I investigate the possibility of a rich account of ecological restoration. Starting from the apparent one-sided focus on science and technology within the nature conservation community in Flanders, Belgium, I first present an intuitive case against a restorative practice solely based on science and technology. I then argue that what constitutes good restorative practice must be informed by the historical Arcadian tradition in which nature appreciation and subsequent conservation in the West have taken shape. However, the way in which nature is perceived through that tradition seems highly external and stylized, and thus the question can be raised whether restorative practices based on this tradition can do nature itself any justice. Following the lead of Dutch sociologist Kris van Koppen, I argue that it can when the tradition is made flexible through a “conversation process” with nature. Such a conversation process can be achieved by engaging people in a sensual and bodily way in the restoration process. The result is that the richer account of the restorative practice contributes to the constitution of meaningful places that resist easy manipulation through science and technology.