Environment and Society: Advances in Research / Thematic Focus: RESTORATION
Restoration practice and technologies are emerging as a dominant tool for addressing degrading ecologies globally. This increased popularity is reflected through growing calls for the prioritization and legitimization of restoration as a practice for not only preventing but also reversing ongoing degradation. For example, the UN Decade on Ecosystem Restoration has established ambitious goals to “heal the planet” in 10 years’ time focusing on restoration efforts of forests, farmlands, wetlands, oceans and even cities. Restoration has featured centrally in discussions of changing climates, biodiversity loss, and food security, and restoration technologies in particular have gained significant support. Coral reefs, mangrove forests, riparian systems, and oyster beds, among many other habitats, are not only seen as nature worth “healing,” but as critical natural infrastructures for addressing ongoing human-induced environmental crises. While much restoration literature is dominated by technical and natural science, there is an emerging field of social science studies exploring the social, ethical and political dimensions and implications of restoration as a field of science and practice. These studies have examined how restoration assumes and enables certain kinds of naturalcultural relations, while excluding others. They have also brought into question how the global scale-up of restoration practices may unevenly impact people, their livelihoods, and their environmental relationships.
There is thus a growing body of work that has examined these issues; however, this work is scattered across disciplines and ecological niches. Therefore, this special issue brings together reviews reflecting the diversity of perspectives and questions raised by social scientists on the practice of ecological restoration, restoration technologies, and restoration logics. We aim to bring together different strands of environmental social science and the humanities that have examined restoration practices and other forms of ecological care through lenses of equity, gender, race, history, and governance.