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Is gardening a useful metaphor for conservation and restoration? History and controversy

McEuen, Amy B., Styles, Megan A.
Restoration ecology 2019 v.27 no.6 pp. 1194-1198
biodiversity, biodiversity conservation, ecosystems, gardeners, gardening, gardens, pests, wilderness
As the wilderness metaphor has decreased in utility due to widespread human‐driven environmental change, conservationists and restorationists have struggled to find new ways to inspire nature conservation. Some have suggested gardening as a new metaphor, but many are wary of its implications, particularly for animals viewed as threats or pests. Others, however, point out positive attributes for the metaphor including its focus on stewardship of nature which allows for positive human agency in ecosystems. We argue a gardening metaphor may also allow increased flexibility in approaches to biodiversity conservation, in part by allowing goals to be fit to communities and their specific cultural contexts. Wild gardening would seek to preserve global biodiversity while acknowledging the pivotal role humans now play in that process. Here we review the use of the garden metaphor over the last 25 years and discuss what wild gardening might mean for restoration. Consistent with a long history of environmental thought, we suggest such a metaphor will work best if it is coupled with a civic/stewardship ethic and a good dose of humility on the part of all gardeners.