Thursday, November 5, 2009

Restoration and Human Impact

The speaker emphasized how restoration in urban areas can cause tensions between citizens and the overall goals of the park district. Because of the invasive techniques sometimes used in restoring an area to its previous natural state, people may mistake the efforts as destructive. It makes me wonder about the human role within the environment and the recent field of restoration. We believe that it is our responsibility to “fix” the environment because of the damage and manipulation humans have already taken part in. However, the line is not distinct between how much is driven by natural process and where the effects of human processes begin. Therefore, we are taking a risk in assuming what actually defines “native” when humans, through use of technology, have manipulated their environment since our existence. It is believed that a great portion of the rainforest, after historical observations, is composed of nonnative flora. This alters our foundational idea of preservation whose traditional goal is to conserve the natural state of the land and its resources. This alteration of our surroundings, I don’t believe is always something that should be corrected. Similar to ideas presented in Cradle to Cradle, humans cannot deny our strong presence within the environment and to some degree, we should not feel like we have to apologize for it. I believe the benefits of restoration undoubtedly outweigh the drawbacks, but I think it is very important to continually ask what exactly we are restoring to and why. Critically assessing our impact is the only sustainable pathway to change.

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