Restoration Vs. Preservation: the Psychology of Nature Conservation
The dramatic growth of ecological restoration, from mass reforestation to the large-scale reintroductions of long-lost species, is providing a welcome cause for optimism among often overly-pessimistic conservationists, argues Marcus Nield
Restoration Vs. Preservation: the Psychology of Nature Conservation
By Marcus Nield / positivenews.org.uk

The past few months have been particularly momentous for the restoration movement. Armed with shovels and seeds 44,000 volunteers in Ecuador smashed the Guinness World Record for ‘most trees planted in one day’. Meanwhile, a five-year beaver reintroduction trial in Scotland concluded that the species can boost Scottish tourism by millions of pounds while benefiting the surrounding area’s ecological health. The WWF and Rewilding Europe initiated the largest reintroduction project in Europe to date, repopulating vast tracts of land with European bison and the Obama administration unveiled a strategy for a ‘butterfly highway’, consisting of long stretches of nectar-rich flowers to assist the migration of threatened species.

These stories are a breath of fresh air amid a language of conservation that is often riddled with bleak prophecies and laments – and given the steamroller of consumer culture this is hardly surprising. But conservationists’ despair pours into public communications and in desperate attempts to garner support, severity, danger and crisis are emphasised, creating a society so overwhelmed with threats of apocalyptic eco-nightmares it retreats into passivity. The public become as stumped as the trees they couldn’t protect.

Environmental psychologists say this scare tactic is grossly counterproductive. Dr David Sobel, education writer and doctor in psychology, coined the term ‘ecophobia’ – the fear of ecological disasters and interaction with the outdoors. He warns that the fear fertilised by negative media regarding the environment leads to inaction. An editorial in the journal Bioscience declares: “We contend that there is a continuing culture of hopelessness among conservation biologists…and that will influence our ability to mobilise conservation action among the general public.”

On the other hand, an illuminating study by Carly Armstrong from the University of Toronto suggests that psychological catalysts for environmental action reside within positive sentiments such as gratitude and love. If humanity is to reverse the abuse of Earth, people’s relationship with nature must be framed in a more optimistic manner.

Restoration projects are now providing a repertoire of success stories that are lifting the tone of conservation. Reporting these triumphs forms links within our minds between the environment and a hopeful vision of the future, reigniting those positive affiliations that lead us to act. The shame and blame of conservation turns into a loud and proud celebration.

The concept of restoration speaks to those desirable human traits of creativity and nurturing. Its language is not of loss but gain. There is a choice: either disproportionately focus on depletion and wonder why people hide behind sofas, or start pointing to the rise of tangible opportunities to rebuild platforms on which biodiversity can flourish.

Moreover, here is an occasion to see the fruits of one’s labour. Restorationists can see with their own eyes the metamorphosis of dust into wilderness. A preservationist, on the other hand, often sees slightly less worse situations than what would have been. There is no doubt that both are essential, but the former has an attractive allure that environmental psychologists suggest may be more likely to harness public interest.

E.O. Wilson, one of the most prominent biologists of our time, hit upon the subject when he proposed, “Here is the means to end the great extinction spasm. The next century will, I believe, be the era of restoration in ecology.”

0.0 ·
0
What's Next
Trending Today
Have You Heard of The Great Forgetting? It Happened 10,000 Years Ago & Completely Affects Your Life
Daniel Quinn · 16,219 views today · (Excerpted from the book, The Story of B) With every audience and every individual, I have to begin by making them see that the cultural self-awareness we inherit from our...
The Myth of Positivity: Why Your Pain Holds a Mighty Purpose
umair haque · 14,127 views today · Of all the great myths of contemporary life, one of the most toxic is positivity. It says: there are negative and positive emotions, and only the positive ones are worth...
A Hauntingly Beautiful Short Film About Life and Death
5 min · 10,280 views today · The Life of Death is a touching handdrawn animation about the day Death fell in love with Life.
10 Stunning Images from the Wildlife Photographer of the Year People's Choice Award
Natural History Museum · 9,374 views today · These incredible images are a selection from of the 25 shortlisted by The Natural History Museum for the People's Choice Award from this year's Wildlife Photographer of the...
Seven Must-Have Skills for the 21st Century
Tommy Lehe · 6,989 views today · We live in a world that moves faster than we do. Trying to keep up can be an overwhelming task that at times feels hopeless, like we are falling further and further behind—but...
Forget Air Force One, Pentagon Wastes Billions and Billions Every Month
Nadia Prupis · 5,025 views today · President-elect Donald Trump's focus on single Boeing contract ignores enormous waste of bloated Pentagon budget
Stunning Summary of US Imperialism and Native Resistance... on MSNBC!
4 min · 3,803 views today · On The Last Word with Lawrence O'Donnell on MSNBC, Lawrence explains why a protest by Native Americans in North Dakota reminds us of the history American always tries to forget.
DREAM: A Spoken Word Meditation For When Life Is Kicking Your Ass
4 min · 2,319 views today · If life is kicking your ass and the general un-coolness of everybody on planet erf is making you want to off yourself, TALK to someone: 800-273-8255 (national suicide...
Amanda Abbington Introduces iAnimal - 42 Days in the Life of Chickens
4 min · 2,099 views today · Shot undercover in British factory farms and slaughterhouses, this immersive 360° video gives you a birds-eye view of what happens to chicken from farm to plate.
The Most Powerful Algorithm in the World
Joe Brewer · 2,058 views today · After the insanity of the U.S. election, a lot of people are blaming Facebook for its algorithms that parse us into ideological bubbles and spread “fake news” and other kinds...
Standing Rock Wisdom: How Sacred, Nonviolent Activism Has the Power to Succeed
Charles Eisenstein · 1,948 views today · I am told by Native American friends active at Standing Rock that the elders are counseling the Water Protectors to undertake each action prayerfully and to stay off the...
The Other Way of Knowing
Lilian Na’ia Alessa · 1,869 views today · Western science and Indigenous worldviews are often seen as incompatible, with the Indigenous view usually being far less valued by society at large. But an inside look at...
How a White Supremacist Became a Civil Rights Activist
Araz Hachadourian · 1,540 views today · The story of a KKK leader’s transformation shows us that we need not live forever with the kind of violence we saw in Charleston this month.
Veterans at Standing Rock Ask Forgiveness for War Crimes Against Tribal Nations
Jen Hayden · 1,509 views today · Jon Eagle Sr., Tribal Historic Preservation Officer at Standing Rock Sioux Tribe has reported something wholly unexpected happened at the Standing Rock Reservation today. The...
What Makes Call-Out Culture So Toxic
Asam Ahmad · 1,357 views today · Call-out culture refers to the tendency among progressives, radicals, activists, and community organizers to publicly name instances or patterns of oppressive behaviour and...
Dear Activists, Maybe It's Time to Admit That We've Got It All Wrong
Mickey Z. · 1,319 views today · “The first step in the revolution is eye contact.” - Alicen Grey
Sean Carroll - The Meaning of Life
7 min · 1,290 views today · The world keeps happening in accordance with its rules; it's up to us to make sense of it and give it value. Sean Carroll Music: Moby - God Moving Over the Face of the Waters
Solar is Already Producing More Energy Than Oil, Says Major Scientific Review
Nafeez Ahmed · 1,214 views today · And is twice as powerful than previously thought
Why People Cling to Old Beliefs
1 min · 1,141 views today · Cognitive psychologist and neuroscientist at McGill University, Daniel Levitin, explains why people can be so stubborn when it comes to false beliefs. This behavior is...
The 24-Hour Emergency Hotline for Syrian Refugees
7 min · 1,137 views today · Mohammed Abu Amar runs a makeshift 24-hour helpline from his flat in Hamburg, guiding scared refugees fleeing the violence in Syria across the water to Europe.  Despite losing...
Load More
Like us on Facebook?
Restoration Vs. Preservation: the Psychology of Nature Conservation