You Can’t Not Choose: Embracing the Role of Choice in Ecological Restoration


Address correspondence to S. K. Allison, email


From the moment of its inception, human choice about how to treat the environment is a key part of ecological restoration. Because many, if not most, restoration projects require continual management once established, human choice remains a vital component of restoration projects for their entire life. But ecological restorationists often downplay the role of choice in restoration, partly because we see the choice to restore as obvious and inherently good and partly because we feel the restoration of more natural conditions for a habitat will lessen the impact of human choice over time. Some critics feel the role of human choice in restoration degrades the value of restoration. However, another response to human choice in restoration is to embrace choice, even with the problems it brings, and use choice as a way to more fully engage humans with the environment. If such choices are approached carefully, with recognition of the potential for poor choices, then restorationists can arrive at restorations that are better for both the environment and us.