Year of Award


Document Type


Degree Type

Master of Science (MS)

Degree Name

Environmental Studies

Department or School/College

Environmental Studies Program

Committee Chair

Daniel Spencer

Commitee Members

Christopher Preston, Tom Roy


ecological restoration, ecology and religion, ecotheology, environmental ethics, restoration ethics, William R. Jordan III


University of Montana


ABSTRACT Lohrmann, Adam, M.S., May 2011 Environmental Studies Wild Collaboration: Ecological Restoration, Religion, and the Reformation of the Human/Nature Relationship Chairperson: Dr. Daniel Spencer In recent years, the field of ecological restoration has gained momentum as an academic discipline, a scientific profession, and as a community-based form of environmental activism and land stewardship. At the same time, the number, scope, complexity, and diversity of restoration projects has expanded, and restoration is now being practiced in every corner of the globe. Witnessing this surge of activity and interest, many restorationists now believe that the practice of restoration can serve as a catalyst for transforming the human/earth connection from a relationship of coercion and exploitation to one of collaboration and mutual enrichment. However, restoration also raises many problematic questions with regard to the human/nature relationship. The work of restoration often involves a high degree of intervention and tampering in ecological communities. Restoration entails disturbing the ecological trajectories of existing ecosystems, reconfiguring landscape features, and the killing or removal of plant and animal life. Accordingly, some critics suggest that restoration actually represents an extension of the dominant, destructive cultural paradigms by which human beings feel justified to intrude upon and manipulate natural landscapes however they see fit. These concerns regarding the practice of restoration reflect deeper, more fundamental tensions embedded within the human/nature relationship, and relationship in general. These tensions are rooted in the existential challenge of otherness, and in the pervasive ecological realities of limitation, volatility, suffering, and loss. If restorationists hope to reform the relationship between humankind and the earth, then they must confront and negotiate these core relational concerns and tensions. I contend that a serious exploration of our religious and spiritual traditions can assist restorationists in navigating these intractable issues, inasmuch as religion constitutes a primary cultural response to the mystery of relationality. In this essay, I present an experimental reading of the meaning and practice of ecological restoration through the lens of one particular religious tradition—the Christian faith. In so doing, I seek to demonstrate that the religious technologies of sacred narrative, theology, and ritual can help us to conceive and conduct restoration as a collaborative endeavor, and to foster mutually enlivening relationships between human beings and the beyond human world.



© Copyright 2011 Adam Carl Lohrmann