Ecological Restoration as Public Spiritual Practice

in Worldviews: Global Religions, Culture, and Ecology
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Abstract

The practice of ecological restoration is the attempt to repair ecosystems that have been damaged or degraded, most often by past human activities. Restoration includes everything from removing dams to planting native trees, grasses and wildflowers to bio-reactivating soil to controlling invasive plants to recontouring land. Beyond this, ecological restoration is the attempt to restore humans' relationship with nature. In the actual activities of restoring land, humans are in important ways restored to land. This paper argues that one of the ways in which restoration practice reconnects humans to nature is in a spiritual-moral sense. In addition to performing ecological work, restoration performs sacred work and serves as a form of public witness; and it can engender spiritual-moral experiences within participants. For these reasons, we can view restoration not only as a promising contemporary environmental practice, but also as a burgeoning public spiritual practice.

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