Sunday, May 1, 2016

CFP: Ecological restoration and the law

The Griffith Law Review has put out a call for papers for what promises to be an interesting special issue on "Ecological Restoration and the Law: Recovering Nature’s Past for the Future". Some highlights from the call:
This special issue provides a timely opportunity to critically investigate one of the gravest temporal, philosophical and methodological deficiencies inherent in how environmental law develops – namely its neglect or structural deficiencies in actively engaging with the recovery of ecosystems. Under the aegis of the philosophy of sustainable development, which provides environmental law’s main temporal and ideological ballast, our environmental regulations and policies have become obsessed with the future and emotionally and ideologically disconnect people from actively engaging with the recovery of ecosystems. The legal priority is commonly to avert, mitigate or adapt to new ecological impacts rather than to restore past damage. While further environmental upheaval must be avoided, sustaining what remains may be illusionary if prevailing conditions are too degraded. A focus on sustainability emotionally and mentally disconnects us from actively restoring nature by presuming that nature has the capacity to passively restore itself. To the extent that legal systems recognise the imperative to actively restore nature, they tend to focus narrowly on environmental restoration rather than ecological restoration (ie, the difference between rehabilitation of small, discrete sites, such as a former mine, and ambitious restoration of entire ecosystems and landscapes).
The special issue of the GLR thus serves to critically evaluate the nature and impact of current laws and other governance mechanisms that address ecological restoration, to advance theoretical understandings for a new generation of governance reforms for eco-restoration, and more broadly to generate critical and interdisciplinary insights into environmental law generally. Ecophilosophy and philosophy more generally, through strands such as the ‘new materialists’ have helped us to think differently about the idea of nature and ask ontologically informed questions about human beings in a world of matter. Environmental history, geography, ecopsychology, anthropology and other disciplinary approaches to the human relationship to nature have supported discussions and research that question our understanding of how we come to view and interpret our relationship to the natural world and its significance for us. Environmental law however has not kept pace with the widening of our increasingly more interdisciplinary and critical approaches to how we understand the human and nature relationship.
In this respect, the special issue considers how law and its relationship to themes like recovery, emotions, time, geography, vitalism, vulnerability, justice, and history can provoke how we think more deeply about restoration. Some of the interrelated themes include: 
1. The temporalities of environmental governance: in regard to restoration, how does and should environmental law deal with ‘time’, such as aligning human decision-making with nature’s time scales. What theoretical and doctrinal issues arise in shifting environmental law from its traditional prospective orientation to a retrospective outlook in order to address past ecological damage? What broader theoretical insights may this context reveal about how legal systems approach time as a medium to govern society and the natural environment?
2. The science of eco-restoration: how has scientific knowledge been incorporated into eco-restoration law, and how should science inform legal standards and procedures in this area? For example, restoring an ecosystem to past conditions may be difficult for lack of knowledge of prior ecological conditions as well as disagreement about which historic environmental baseline to return to. What do such issues reveal about the challenges for applying interdisciplinary methods in the practice of environmental law?
In exploring these themes, the special issue will be informed by a diversity of theoretical perspectives in fields including restoration ecology, environmental history, emotions and the law, governance theory, law and geography, and the philosophies of time. Through these interdisciplinary enquiries and theoretical framings, the special issue will help fill a gap in legal scholarship on the role of legal governance in advancing ecological restoration and reforming environmental law.
Abstracts for proposed papers should be sent to the Special Issue Editors for consideration: Professor Benjamin J. Richardson - and Afshin Akhtar-Khavari -
Submissions of manuscripts to the journal can be made at the following web address:
Abstracts are due 1 July 2016 and manuscripts 30 November 2016 .

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