The two-culture problem: ecological restoration and the integration of knowledge

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Higgs, Eric

The terms “ecological restoration” and “restoration ecology” are frequently interchanged. Restoration ecology is the suite of scientific practices that constitute an emergent subdiscipline of ecology. Ecological restoration is the ensemble of practices that constitute the entire field of restoration, including restoration ecology as well as the participating human and natural sciences, politics, technologies, economic factors, and cultural dimensions. This paper is motivated by the concern that the broader practice of restoration may become narrowed over the next decade as a result of zealous attention to scientific and technological considerations, and that restoration ecology will trump ecological restoration. Scientific and technological acumen is necessary for successful restoration, but insufficient. Maintaining a broader approach to restoration requires respect for other kinds of knowledge than science, and especially the recognition of a moral center that is beyond the scope of science to address fully. An example of integrated restoration is presented: the ecological and cultural restoration of Discovery Island (near Victoria, British Columbia, Canada) by the Lekwungen people (Songhees First Nation).


Higgs, E. 2005. The two-culture problem: ecological restoration and the integration of knowledge. Restoration Ecology 13:159–164.