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Ecological restoration and the Anthropocene

Akhtar-Khavari, A and Richardson, BJ ORCID: 0000-0002-3249-5648 2019 , 'Ecological restoration and the Anthropocene', in A Akhtar-Khavari and BJ Richardson (eds.), Ecological Restoration Law , Routledge, London, pp. 1-26.

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Ecological recovery has never been more important yet incongruously remains alow priority in environmental law. Most policy-makers perceive the intensifyingupheavals of the Anthropocene as reasons to pay ever more attention to the futureso as to forestall further degradation. Climate change, species extinctions, oceansof plastic debris and other ecological tolls loom on the horizon as an ever-realdystopia. We cannot ignore the urgency to halt dissipation of the life-sustainingbiosphere, yet equally we should heal past losses in order to make sustaining whatremains more viable. The Anthropocene is not a recent phenomenon but derivesfrom a long history of anthropogenic environmental change that began at leastwith the onset of industrialisation two centuries ago and possibly earlier with theadvent of agriculture. Under the aegis of the philosophy of sustainable development, which provides environmental law’s conceptual ballast, regulators dwell onforestalling future adversity rather than addressing past follies. The legal priority iscommonly to avert, mitigate or adapt to new ecological impacts rather than torepair past damage. This stance may also emotionally and culturally weaken people’s sense of environmental stewardship on the presumption that nature has thecapacity to passively restore itself through processes of ecological succession, species evolution and so forth. Damaged or degraded ecosystems sometimes canrecover through their own processes, as evident in how nature rebounds after fires,floods or droughts; however, some recovery may be effectively impossible, such aswhen invasive species have fundamentally altered ecological equilibriums or toxicpollutants become embedded in land or water.

Item Type: Book Section
Authors/Creators:Akhtar-Khavari, A and Richardson, BJ
Keywords: environmental law, ecological restoration
Publisher: Routledge
DOI / ID Number: 10.4324/9780429468315-1
Copyright Information:

Copyright 2019 The Authors

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