2 AJEL 1 (2015)

handle is hein.journals/ajel2 and id is 1 raw text is: 

AJEL  (2015) Vol II


1


             RECLAIMING   NATURE:  ECO-RESTORATION OF LIMINAL SPACES

                               BENJAMIN  J. RICHARDSON*

     Past  environmental  damage   is a major  hindrance  to sustainability, yet its
     restoration is a low priority ofAustralian environmental law compared to current
     and  future  impacts. The  governance  of  eco-restoration is fragmented and
     incomplete, with little regulatory influence in regard to landscape or ecosystem-
     scale  restoration. In many  cases  eco-restoration is not viable because  of
     irreparable environmental  damage,  and  in a few  cases - wild areas  - it is
     generally less necessary. But in the extensive liminal spaces that have suffered
     some  damage,  restoration and better governance of it is needed. Remediation of
     old mines  or brownfield sites - the current focus of Australian eco-restoration
     law - is not a useful precedent for ecosystem restoration of liminal landscapes. A
     number   of fascinating biodiversity-focused restoration projects are underway
     across Australia, but are without a coherent governance framework  that would
     enable such projects to likely have a more decisive and widespread impact. Some
     reforms could be undertaken  to improve the legal framework for eco-restoration
     in Australia, especially in regard to terminology, goals and tools.

                    I      ENVIRONMENTAL LAW'S MISSING AGENDA

Past environmental desecration in Australia has left a wretched legacy that limits the scope
for sustaining what is left. Mitigating new environmental impacts, rather than remedying
previous ones, is the focus of our environmental laws and policies. This article scrutinises this
missing  agenda  in Australian environmental law  with  an argument  that environmental
restoration (hereafter 'eco-restoration') of 'liminal spaces' (i.e., areas either not irreparably
changed  by humankind   nor so substantially intact that restoration is not a priority or is
unnecessary) should be elevated to a more fundamental status. The discussion is structured
around three main themes: (i) to explain the rationale for eco-restoration and its contribution
to sustainability; (ii) to review the ad hoc and sparse provisions in Australian legislation
relevant to eco-restoration, and to illustrate their modest governance potential by reference to
some  examples  of biodiversity and landscape  restoration in liminal spaces; and (iii) to
identify some policy and governance  challenges and make  recommendations   for building
better legal foundations for eco-restoration law in Australia. This brief foray into this hugely
important  subject will hopefully help guide future empirical research to evaluate  eco-
restoration governance in more detail and focus law reform.

In our planet with virtually no place unscathed by  humankind,  and  indeed much  of its
ravaged in the name of 'progress', eco-restoration is crucial. It is especially so in Australia,

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