The environmental movement is plagued by pessimism. And that’s not unreasonable: with so many complicated, seemingly intractable problems facing the planet, coupled with a need to convince people of the dangers we face, it’s hard not to focus on the negative.
But that paints an unbalanced - and overly disheartening - picture of what’s going on with environmental stewardship today. There are success stories, and Our Once and Future Planet delivers a fascinating account of one of the youngest and least known but most dynamic areas of environmental experimentation and innovation: ecological restoration.
Veteran investigative reporter Paddy Woodworth has spent years traveling the globe and talking with people - scientists, politicians, and ordinary citizens - who are working on the front lines of the battle against environmental degradation, and often linking it to the fight against poverty.
At sites ranging from Mexico to his native Ireland and from Chicago to Cape Town, Woodworth shows us the striking successes (and a few humbling failures) of groups that are attempting to use cutting-edge science to restore blighted, impoverished, and otherwise troubled landscapes.
However, restoration’s goals are often deeply controversial. Should we – can we – attempt to restore an ecosystem to some ideal point in its past, or should we be restoring more pragmatically towards a healthier but still compromised future?
These firsthand field reports and interviews with participants reveal the promise, the power, the drama and the challenging questions posed by restoration.
Ecological restoration alone won’t solve the myriad problems facing our environment. But Our Once and Future Planet demonstrates the role it can play, and the hope, inspiration and new knowledge that can come from engaging positively with even one small patch of earth.
An incredibly enjoyable and thought-provoking read for the restoration scholar and general public alike… it tells a really good story in the form of a hopeful narrative for the potential future of restoration. Restoration Ecology
Clear and thoughtful… detailed accounts of projects from around the world… skillfully dissects the arguments...charming and revealing. Science
Comprehensively researched and eloquently written. Irish Examiner
Highly readable…a clear-eyed assessment... will bring the concept and application of ecological restoration to a broader audience and will help inspire a new generation of restoration practitioners and researchers. BioScience
A scholarly and most informed account of the current state of restoration ecology…an excellent critique of science at work. South African Journal of Science
An important book…a keen practical value…a stimulating field guide. The Irish Times
A stirring portrait of the hardworking environmentalists who are trying to restore landscapes to their former, untouched glory, but he also captures the dark side of the enterprise. Scientific American
Woodworth’s [treatment of restoration] is certainly the best…could hardly be more timely…a freshness and clarity to Woodworth’s approach…Every project described here is wonderful and ground for hope, and taken together they weave a canvas of extraordinarily varied technique and approach. Dublin Review of Books
Lively and accessible …thoughtful and thought-provoking…nuanced consideration of challenges…I recommend it to everyone involved with restoration, to other scientists, to students, and to the interested public. It is a great read. Ecological Restoration
Anexcellent resource…highly recommended. Choice
Entertaining, easy-to-read...accessible to a range of readers...targeted to the interested general public, it also has the ability to inspire the most jaded professional ecologist and/or restoration practitioner. Ecological Management & Restoration
The level of technical detail will offer real value to scientists and policy makers while Woodworth's writing style along his practical examples, provide a balance to the material that will also appeal to a wider audience. New Zealand Landcare Trust