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Robert Elliot's "Faking Nature," 1 represents one of the strongest philosophical rejections of the ground of restoration ecology ever offered.
Here, and in a succession of papers defending the original essay, Elliot argued that ecological restoration was akin to art forgery.
Just as a copied art work could not reproduce the value of the original, restored nature could not reproduce the value of nature.
I reject Elliot's art forgery analogy, and argue that his paper provides grounds for distinguishing between two forms of restoration that must be given separate normative consideration: This argument will require an investigation of Mark Sagoff's arguments concerning the normative status of art restorations.
On this claim, any harm done to nature by humans is ultimately repairable through restoration and therefore should be discounted. Elliot calls this view, the "restoration thesis. Just as we would not value a replication of Restoration thesis work of art as much as we would value the original, we wouldn't value a replicated bit of nature as much as we would the original thing.
The force of the analogy is provided by an argument that Restoration thesis art, as with nature, we rely on an understanding of its origins in order to ascribe its value.
For example, Elliot asks us to imagine a case where developers, needing to run underground pipes through our backyard, ask to remove a valuable piece of sculpture from the yard. But because the sculpture is so fragile it cannot be moved.
The developer tells us not to worry, because he will replace the sculpture with an exact replica after he finishes. We will reject the fake for the original because we "value the original as an aesthetic object, as an object with a specific genesis and history.
But after clarifying this initial claim, Elliot suggest that perhaps all restorations, not just those embodied in the restoration thesis, are problematic through a series of examples designed to push the argument that nature has a distinct, originary value.
In the first two examples, a lover of wilderness named John is deliberately fooled into believing that he is experiencing wilderness. In both examples it is clear that whatever value we wish to ascribe to nature, it is not to be found in these two cases. Similar to the example of art forgery, faked nature is not the real thing.
But in case three, John is taken to a place that was once a devastated strip mine. After the forest was destroyed, the earth torn up, and animals either killed or driven away, the landscape was restored. This claim is a bit confusing since Elliot reassures us just two pages before that some kinds of restoration are beneficial, or benevolent: That is a view quite compatible with the belief that replacing a rich natural environment with a rich artificial one is a bad thing.
We can therefore derive a distinction between two different kinds of restoration: Benevolent restorations, unlike malicious restorations, cannot serve as justifications for the conditions which would warrant their engagement. If this distinction holds, then we can claim that Elliot's original target was not all of restoration, but only a particular kind of restoration.
If this claim is true, then perhaps it is the case that benevolent restorations are not diminished in value by Elliot's art analogy, and in fact, might aptly be more akin to art restoration, than art forgery, or replacement.
If correct, the art forgery example has limited application. The analogy can only be applied against a kind of malicious restoration that we may easily agree ought to be rejected.Restoration as an attempt to reproduce nature, particularly as motivated by the restoration thesis, fakes original nature as reproduction of a work of art fakes the original piece.
"Faking Nature": A Review Restoration and Management Notes 4/2 (Winter ), p. 55 Consider for a moment "the restoration thesis": that "the destruction of something of value is compensated for by the later creation (recreation) of something of equal value.".
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Elliot’s denial of restoration thesis: a. Restoration can never completely restore value; once natural object has been destroyed, you can never get back its original value no matter how perfectly you restore it.
4. Get this from a library! The postcolonial possibility of restoration: a thesis submitted in partial fulfilment of the requirements for the degree of Master of Resource Studies at Lincoln University.
[S M Ward].