I am so at home in Dublin, more than any other city, that I feel it has always been familiar to me. It took me years to see through its soft charm to its bitter prickly kernel - which I quite like too.

Home Uncategorized The Restoration Drama

The Restoration Drama

John Feehan
Our Once and Future Planet: Restoring the World in the Climate Change Century, by Paddy Woodworth, University of Chicago Press, 536 pp, $35.00, ISBN: 978-0226907390 It is difficult for anybody who looks dispassionately at the statistics that echo our depletion of the Earth’s resources, and illustrate how wounded is the world of nature, not to be profoundly disheartened at times. The human population has increased four-fold over the last hundred years, and doubled in our lifetime, but our use of water resources has grown nine-fold in that time, climate emissions have increased seventeen-fold, overfishing by a multiple of thirty-five. The rainforests that harbour most terrestrial biodiversity have dwindled: Madagascar has lost ninety-three per cent of its forest, ninety-nine per cent of the Atlantic coast forest of Brazil is gone, the island forests of Polynesia and the Caribbean have disappeared altogether. At the current rate of extinction, thirty per cent of species will be gone by 2050. The growing concern among ecologists about the rate of species extinction, and the urgent need to do something more focused about halting or reversing it, resulted in the formation of the Society for Ecological Restoration in 1987 and the establishment of the journal Restoration Ecology. There is now a flood of scientific papers in this and other publications documenting the theory and practice of our attempts to try to patch a few of the holes in the unravelling fabric of biological and ecological diversity in every quarter of the Earth. Several textbooks are also now in print, aimed at budding professionals. Up to now, however, there have been few concerted attempts to distil all of this and make it available to a more general readership. Over the past few years there have been several attempts at a more popular treatment (among them Andrew Balmford’s Wild Hope), but Paddy Woodworth’s is certainly the best, and acclaimed as such by many of the most important theoreticians and practitioners in the field of restoration ecology. The book could hardly be more timely, and the fact that it is one of a cluster indicates the growing degree of awareness of the topic. There is a freshness and clarity to Woodworth’s approach that is due in part perhaps to the fact that he has come late to the field. His former journalistic writing life dealt with “the bitter and intractable Basque conflict, and […] the sometimes equally vindictive Irish arts scene”…

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