Seminar - Historicising Ecological Restoration: Cultural and environmental practice in Australia

The role of history in ecological restoration is changing. Accordingly, dialogue on the ethical aspects of ecological restoration has resurged. Informed by critical perspectives of environmental history and decolonising methodologies, this project builds on ecological restoration discourses by illuminating cultures of restoration within a settler society. It considers both material changes in the land, as well as cultures that produce and respond to them. Through restoration practices, ecological imaginaries rub up against material realities, and important ethical realisations, with associated moral obligations, emerge.

By leaning in to plural and sometimes troubling histories, by starting from local place and listening to its stories, and by nurturing political citizenship, ecological restoration can contribute to wider reparations. Alternatively, framed within modernist, techno-fix narratives, and removed from the specificities of local place, ecological restoration can participate in violent and ethically fraught activities. Though housed in science and management, ecological restoration is profoundly cultural.

About the speaker

Lilian Pearce weaves together ecological training, a need to walk, a thirst for stories and a love of people to trouble limited accounts of history and place. She does this within academic, government, and consulting roles drawing on ecology, environmental history, cultural geography and political ecology disciplines. She is currently writing about old landscapes, new species, courageous ladies, native grasses, broken fences, poisonous dust, and rising seas from a half-baked mud-brick home in Central Victoria, where she lives with her husband and young daughter. She holds a Bachelor of Science and a first-class honours degree in Geography from the University of Tasmania.