Motivations for the Restoration of Ecosystems

Motivations for the Restoration of Ecosystems


The underlying reasons to restore ecosystems are numerous yet they remain understated and unappreciated. Therefore, this article attempts to answer the question of why ecosystems are restored. The authors recognize and explore 5 rationales or motivations for restoration: technocratic, biotic, heuristic, idealistic and pragmatic

Conclusions & Takeaways

A summary of the five rationals/motivations are listed here. Technocratic Rationale: undertaken by government agencies and large institutions to recover social values that were once provided by ecosystems. Some of these social values are related to water, erosion, wildlife, endangered species. These types of restoration projects are mostly conducted in public lands. Biotic Rationale: informed by ecological principles, the main purpose is to perpetuate biodiversity. Mostly used by biologists and environmentalists. Heuristic Rationale: the purpose is to elucidate ecological principles in order to serve as a pedagogic aid in ecological science. Idealistic Rationale: conforms to the principle that people are attached to wild areas because of cultural, personal or spiritual considerations. Pragmatic Rationale:  people engage in restoration because of pragmatic reasons like obtaining increased natural capital or restituting anthropogenic climate change. The article concludes indicating that no individual rationale is sufficient on its own, and suggests a unified approach. All rationales should be considered, and the technocratic and idealistic rationales should be merged to avoid authoritarianism and allow for participatory efforts.


CLEWELL ANDREF, Aronson J. Motivations for the Restoration of Ecosystems. Conservation Biology. 2006;20:420–428. doi:10.1111/j.1523-1739.2006.00340.x.


  • F. Clewell, Inc., Holmes Beach, FL. U.S.A.
  • Centre d'Ecologie Fonctionnelle et Evolutive, Montpellier, France