In the weeks and months following September 11, 2001 much of the public debate in America and in many place around the world focused on issues of retaliation, retribution, and justice. For most people, the immediate response to being harmed by another, especially when that harm is great, is to avenge the act in a manner and to an extent that attempts to equalize the hurt. That is, retaliation attempts to create a kind of harm-quotient that, while not removing the hurt of original act of harm, will in some manner force the other to experience the relatively same amount of pain; thus balancing the ledger. In those rare reflective moments following a great harm, the higher consciousness of most human beings makes the case that there is, in fact, no way to equalize the pain. A murdered family member, a lost career or broken relationship can never be fully recompensed fully. Rationally, most recognize this reality. However, retribution can be a highly charged and reactive emotional force. At the level of instinct and in the immediacy of the harm-event people are not reflecting upon the necessity of reasonably response. In fact, most feel somewhat obliged to balance the harm quotient because in the public arena rejoinders to crime and harm are predicated on a punitive response. The liberal democratic political project postulates a contractual relationship between persons which, when broken seriously, legitimizes retribution in the form of judicial punishment.

While an escalating cycle of violence and judicially sanctioned counter violence seems to be the norm for a world gone astray from the impulse of its gentler angels, there are growing signs that many societies are attempting to find a way out of the destructive and repetitive cycles of harm and retribution. The Restorative Justice Movement is one such example of this emerging effort. Restorative justice aims to bring about a fundamental change in modern western cultural response to crime and punishment. The Restorative Justice Movement sprang from the civil rights, feminist, and indigenous freedom movements of the 1960s and 1970s. While these earlier progenitors were largely focused on social transformation, the Restorative Justice Movement has as its primary aim the dismantling of the justice-industrial complex (Johnstone, 2002). This system executes or incarcerates ever increasing numbers of its citizenry in a continually more punitive and depriving environment. Restorative Justice seeks to replace the values of vengeance and retributions with a more humane and morally defensible stance of restoration, healing, and forgiveness. These are thought to be the primary ameliorative paths of crime victims and the only way to "create just communities in which people who are in pain and suffering can heal with dignity" (Sullivan and Taft: 21) and where meeting core humans needs and maintaining primary relationships are created and honored from the outset.

Restorative Justice shines a light on the question of how to hear the voice of those who suffer and how to foster healing of those harmed without creating a disabling and harmful situation for another. With this as background, the central aim of this essay is to consider the proposition that human beings are not the only constituency victimized by the raising tides of harm and violence. It is increasingly clear that the physical environment and its non-human members also suffer and are victimized by the rapaciously violent acts of others (Besthorn and Canda, 2002). And, in most cases, this violence is perpetrated by human beings, often under the aegis of larger corporate or private market-based interests. While the impact of natural environmental harm may not be immediately evident to the casual observer it is nonetheless apparent that the earth community is approaching the place where humanity¡¯s insidious acts of extractive and exploitative violence, often hidden behind the phalanx of growth, development and continually progress, is bringing the earths carrying capacity close to the precipitous of collapse.

Many ethical frameworks and practical policies have been proposed to address this situation but none have found a more receptive hearing than the Environmental Restoration Movement. Environmental Restoration has emerged as one of the central platform principles of western environmental policy. It is predicated on a mixed array of ecological, ethical, and moral premises positing how humans ought to live in relationship with the rest of the natural world. Its primary normative principle is that when natural settings are degraded by human interference, human beings have a responsibility to restore these settings back to a state of relative naturalness. Environmental Restoration is not without a considerable degree of controversy. It, in fact, raises some of the most challenging questions in the field of environmental policy and ecological philosophy (Katz, 1997). The thrust of this current paper is to suggest a critical way that the Restorative Justice Movement may inform Environmental Restoration. If it is true as Thomas Berry (1988) and others have suggested that the way we treat the non-human world is reflected in the way we treat others in the human world then this perceived reciprocal interrelationship may have something to say about how we thing about recreating an ecosystem after damage has been inflicted upon it and, perhaps most importantly, how we consider our relationship with the earth community before we inflict damage upon it.

Core Elements of Restorative Justice

Restorative Justice is not a unitary concept. It is frequently referred to in a number of different ways in an attempt to describe the multiple dimensions of it evolution and current practice. It has been variously called relational justice, restorative community justice, transformative justice and needs-based justice (Burnside and Baker, 1994; Morris, 1994; Sullivan and Tifft, 1998; Young, 1995). Many restorative justice proponents are clear to make a distinction between restorative justice as a conceptual or philosophical framework and restorative justice as a socio-political movement aimed at changing the current criminal justice system (Johnstone, 2002; McCold, 2000; Zehr, 1990). Others suggest that there are many imposters to legitimate restorative justice initiatives and, as a result, there are many distorted versions of restorative justice. While using the restorative parlance, many reformist schemes still operate out of a punishment-based, retributive paradigm of justice (Harris, 1998; Sullivan and Tifft, 2002).

While restorative justice is difficult to characterize it is not unreasonable to attempt some broad definitional boundaries. Restorative justice is as much about individual and social values and ideologies which guide community response to crime as it is about best methods of preventing future offenses (Daly, 2000). It is not simply a new method to control crime and criminal behavior but rather suggests a fundamental reorientation to the manner in which communities view and respond to criminal acts. Katherine van Wormer (2002), social worker and ardent supporter of the Restorative Justice Movement offers this straightforward characterization. Restorative justice aims to change the direction of criminal law by focusing it on the needs of victims and on repairing communities. Unlike retributive justice, which focuses on punishment of the guilty offender, restorative justice takes a more caring approach. Proponents of this non-adversarial model adapt a different lens for viewing crime and rectifying the harm done by the crime. Restorative justice entails active involvement by members of the community operating with official sanction of the local court.

Core Elements of Environmental Restoration

Environmental Restoration shares a key concern with The Restorative Justice Movement. In the main it is a environmental policy initiative designed to deal with the aftermath of great harm. It, like restorative justice, seeks to equalize the harm quotient between the victim and the offender. But, in the case of environmental restoration the victim is not a person but rather the earth¡ªan ecosystem, a sentient physical being or place that has sustained a great harm. Like restorative justice, the offender or the creator of the harm is in most cases a person or more likely a collective of persons (a company, a corporation, a development group) which either maliciously or by legal sanction caused great harm to another, a living entity.

Environmental Restoration has been the cornerstone of most western models of ecological justice for the larger part of the last half century (Baldwin et al., 1994; Gunn, 1991). It has been the basis of many environmental policy agendas in the industrialized world. It is premised on a mixed array of ecological and normative standards suggesting how humankind ought to live in relation to the natural word. Its overriding assumption is that when harm is caused a living ecosystem it is the moral responsibility of humans to restore that harmed place to a state of relative dis-harm (Cowell, 1993; Jackson et al., 1995).

The Environmental Restoration Movement had its genesis in the early years of the 20th century. As the 19th century ended, after a half-century of rapid industrial development, population growth and westward expansion, many policymakers and average citizens alike began to realize for the first time that natural resources were finite (Worster, 1994). These sobering realities meant that unless collective action was taken to slow resource extraction and, where possible to rehabilitate degraded natural systems, America would gradually, but inescapably, outstrip the carrying capacity of its land and resources. Conservation, preservation resource management and land restoration were increasingly becoming in the public mind practices of choice for dealing with the nation's dwindling natural inheritance (Hays, 1972). President Theodore Roosevelt convened the first Governors Conference on natural resources in 1907 in order to bring together the best minds from the highest levels of government and private industry to deal with the problem of diminishing resources. He wrote "it is evident the abundant natural resources on which the welfare of this nations rests are becoming depleted, and in not a few cases, are already exhausted" (cited in Jarrett, 1958: 51). This conference became the vanguard for new reform spirit of stewardship and reasoned action toward the natural world. It was the symbolic beginning of the Progressive Era¡¯s conservation and preservation sentiment (Hays, 1972).

The language and practice of restorative environmentalism and resource management reveal a great deal about their underlying assumptions. The rhetoric of restoration, conservation, wise-use and stewardship often means in practice the economic development of resources as quickly as technically possible. This means altering and exploiting nature to produce more or better products for human consumption. Framing human/nature issues as technical abstractions of management and restoration reveals the strong human-centered bias. Nature's value still lies only in its usefulness to humankind and change involves improvement, development or rehabilitation of an imperfect natural world.

Hearing the Voice of Nature

The purpose of this essay is not necessarily to critique the philosophical assumptions or practical merits of the Environmental Restoration Movement, although those considerations have been discussed. Whether one agrees with its relevance is, for me, not the central concern. My interests are much narrower. I assume that environmental restoration has, out of some utilitarian necessity, relative merit along a continuum of appropriate/inappropriate and that it is a component of environmental policy that shall be around for many years to come. It shall remain the backbone of both national and international environmental policy well into the next century. More accurately, my concern is that Restorative Justice has something important to say to Environmental Restoration that has been missing in the restoration discussion. I don't presume that infusing principles of restorative justice will temper all or even some of the criticism that has been laid at the feet of Environmental Restoration Movement. But, rather, it may help us think more clearly about what might be a necessary if not fully sufficient condition when a community or society contemplates how to redress great harm done to the natural world.

The earlier discussion suggested that the Restorative Justice Movement holds among its principal elements the importance of dialogue and the essential consideration that the victim must be able to speak and to be heard. Too often the retributive enterprise of the western justice system has ignored or muted the voice of the victim while most of systemic energies have focused on protecting the rights of the accused¡ªin essence insuring only the voice of harmer. I contend that the Environmental Restoration Movement must also find a why to dialogue and to hear the voice of the victim. That is, environmental restoration must listen to the earth's voice and the voice of the earth's non-human inhabitants if it is to become a reasonably justified and not a wholly anthropocentric approach to knotty problems of environmental degradation. While this may sound like lunacy to the ears of some, there is in fact a strong case to be made that the earth and its in habitants are en-voiced¡ªthey speak. The problem is not their speaking but rather our failure to hear. One may legitimately ask how the Environmental Restoration Movement might look as a careful and systematic element of environmental policy if it were first to seek out and listen to the earth's voice. Listening¡ªin order to hear the earth's pain, to acknowledge its concerns, to contemplate its desires, and to confess our failures. I am convinced that as we discover the vocative character of resonant earth we will find ways to interrelate with it that will honor its wishes and will do it no harm. And, on those occasions when great harm does occur; humanity's restorative efforts shall first seek out and consider the earth¡¯s voice rather than purely human evocations regarding the best course of action.

Relying primarily on the work of contemporary phenomenologists Scott Friskics (2001) I hope to briefly show that the earth is not simply dead matter, lifeless form but rather is, in the words of Friskics (2001: 393), a "speech actor." The earth and its non-human inhabitants by their sheer presence with us and the magnitude of their bearing bring envoicement to us. That is, they speak themselves to us "univocally, unisonously, formulating a tautology of infinite significance" (Bugbee, 1958: 141).

For Friskics, the very essence of human existence is constituted in and defined by humanities constant involvement with a markedly complex system of relational events. To be human is to be related to concretized, materialized and metaphysical reality. "There can be no thing-in-itself except as it is abstracted from the relational milieu of actual, concrete being with others" (p. 395). Relational events are not synonymous with relationships, as we typical understand that term. Nor, are relational events simply cognitional associations between one human being and another. Relational events are physical, sensorial action experiences with living beings; human and non-human alike. Indeed, relational events preclude anything that might resemble a kind of effortless, individualized meeting of two separate ego-bound selves; as is commonly understood within dominant western ontology (Besthorn, 2002). There is no laying hold of the self in isolation from the matrix of our relational bonds.

Of critical importance for the current discussion is the perspective that relational events assume address and response. That is, when relationships are concrete, sensual experiences with other there is no possibility to relate on a purely ephemeral level. Relationships are not immediately in the mind but rather are in the senses, in the body, in the felt connection between living phenomena. In this sense, self-ness is much like the Buddhist notion of self as matter, sensation in addition to perception and mental formation (Friskics, 2001). Networks of relational events take place in the context of self-speaking fellow creatures, both sentient and non-sentient. Friskics supports this view by suggesting hearing the world and speaking to the world was the foundation ontology of early Judeo-Christian culture. In truth, the ancient Hebrew term davar, originally used to refer to word, over time came to mean act, event or in many cases the thing that voices. Clearly, Friskics finds linguistic recognition of the vocative character of reality, the pervasiveness of the voice of things¡ªa humbling realization that things are "first and foremost, en-voiced speakers" (Friskics, 2001: 394). For the ancient Semitic tribes, their languages of the mountains and hills as breaking forth into song were not mere figures of speech. For them, the sense of being is in essence annunciation, speaking, singing, chirping, creaking, warbling, whistling, whooshing and clapping. All of these are sounds, which if one intently listens, can be heard in the natural world.

Restorative Environmental Policy: Listening First

The Restorative Justice Movement challenges the environmental policy community to consider the critical need of incorporating a vital restorative justice tenet into any comprehensive environmental policy initiative. It makes clear that environmental restoration, as the Restorative Justice Movement has long known, must begin to consider how a sensitive consideration and dedicated attention to the words of the victim can be incorporated into viable and comprehensive environmental policies. Restorative Environmental Policy, coming as it does, from a reformist and anthropocentric concern for control, problem solving and expertise has failed to integrate into its efforts a deeper concern to hear the voice of nature. If our earlier conclusions are correct¡ªthat there exist very real possibilities of humans having greater dialogical encounters with their fellow earth citizens, then Restorative Environmentalism must be careful not to succumb to the temptation to speak for the needs natural world through purely human monologues of re-creation. The sobering reality is that humanity knows very little about the complex and elaborate structures of nature let alone how these interact in profoundly intricate ways to form living ecosystems. The assumption that human ingenuity is capable of a complete technological fix of degraded environments demonstrates the arrogance with which modern culture assesses the natural world. Human solutions to make the natural whole again are just that. They are human solutions.

Regrettably, there seems to be a growing number of serious ecologists, environmental philosophers and policy advocates who dutifully believe that human inventiveness can fully restore degraded ecosystems even though the destructive relationship between the technological worldview and environmental crisis has been amply demonstrated. It is important to understand my uneasiness. The core concern is not whether environmental restoration is an important practical and short-term response to environmental degradation. Few people would agree with those who believe exploited or injured natural environments should be left in their degraded state. This is not the overriding issue. Rather, the core concern is that arguments for reclamation based on human benefit and interests alone fail to provide adequate moral and ethical justification for the restoration of ecosystems. The moral dilemma manifests itself most completely when restoration policy is considered an appropriate environmental response on purely human grounds. In those instances, the real enticement is that the restoration thesis becomes a powerful justification for degrading ecosystems in the first place because, presumably, humans can restore them to their original, untrammeled perfection.

When the first requirement of restoration becomes the priority of listening sincerely and intently to the voice of the earth, in all the depth of consideration that may require, then restoration will not only be more ethically grounded and thorough, but the decision to degrade environments will become even more cautiously considered except, perhaps, in the case of meeting vital human needs (Naess, 1989). Hearing the voice of the earth in questions of degradation and restoration establishes a rival tradition of environmental policy. In this vocative perspective, all parts of the world have the ability to speak to us and to establish relationship with us. This view implies a radical equality among the beings and phenomena of nature as well as a kind of universal kinship of life in which humans do not dominate, exploit, or destroy (Katz, 1997). Nature ceases to become simply the material of human happiness, rather, it is intrinsically valuable in itself¡ªa manifestation of the effable spirit presence in all.

by Fred H. Besthorn (University of Northern Iowa, USA).

Suggested Readings

Baldwin, D.; DeLuce, J. and Pletsch, C. (eds.) (1994), Beyond Preservation: Restoring and Inventing Landscapes, University of Minnesota Press, Minneapolis, MN.

Bugbee, H. (1958), The Inward Morning: A Philosophical Exploration in Journal Form, Bald Eagle: State College, PA.

Burnside, J. and Baker, N. (eds.) (1994), Relational Justice: Repairing the Breach, Waterside: Winchester, UK.

Besthorn, F.H. (2002), Radical Environmentalism and the Ecological Self: Rethinking the Concept of Self-Identity for Social Work Practice, Journal of Progressive Human Services, Vol. 13, No. 1, pp. 53-72.

Besthorn, F.H. and Canda, E.R. (2002), Revisioning Environment: Deep Ecology for Education and Teaching in
Social Work, Journal of Teaching in Social Work, Vol. 22, No. 2, pp. 79-101.

Cowell, M. (1993), Ecological Restoration and Environmental Ethics, Environmental Ethics, Vol. 15, No. 1, pp. 19-32.

Daly, K. (2000), Revisiting the Relationship Between Retributive and Restorative Justice, in H. Strang and J. Braithwaite (eds.), Restorative Justice: Philosophy to Practice, Ashgate: Aldershot, UK.

Friskics, S. (2001), Dialogical Relations with Nature, Environmental Ethics, Vol. 23, No. 4, pp. 391-410.

Gunn, A. (1991), The Restoration of Species and Natural Environments, Environmental Ethics, Vol. 13, No. 3,pp. 291-310.

Harris, M.K. (1998). Reflections of a Skeptical Dreamer: Some Dilemmas in Restorative Justice Theory and Practice, Contemporary Justice Review, Vol. 1, pp. 57-69.

Hays, S.P. (1972), Conservation and the Gospel of Efficiency: The Progressive Conservation Movement, 1890-1920, Athenaeum: New York.

Jackson, L.; Lopoukhine, N. and Hillyard, D. (1995), Ecological Restoration, Ecology, Vol. 3, No. 1, pp. 71-75.

Jarrett H. (ed.) (1958), Perspectives on Conservation: Essays on America¡¯s Natural Resources, Resources for the Future Press: Baltimore, MD.

Johnstone, G. (2002), Restorative Justice: Ideas, Values Debates, Willan: Portland, OR.

Katz, E. (1997), Nature as Subject: Human Obligation and Natural Community, Rowman & Littlefield; New York.

McCold, P. (2000),. Toward a Holistic Vision of Restorative Juvenile Justice: A Reply to the Maximalist Model, Contemporary Justice Review, Vol. 3, No. 4, pp. 357-414.

Morris, R. (1994), A Practical Path to Restorative Justice, Rittenhouse: Toronto, Canada.

Naess, A. (1989), Ecology, Community and Lifestyle: Outline of an Ecosophy, Cambridge University
Press: New York.

Sullivan, D. and Tifft, L. (1998), Criminology as Peacemaking: A Peace-Oreinted Perspective on Crime, punishment, and Justice that Takes into Account the Needs of All, The Justice Professional, Vol. 11, No. 1/2, pp. 5-34.

Sullivan, D. and Tifft, L. (2001), Restorative Justice: Healing the Foundations of Our Everyday Lives, Willow Tree: Washington, D.C.

Van Wormer, K. (2002), Restorative Justice and Social Work, Social Work Today, Vol. 2, No. 1, pp. 16-21.

Worster, D. (1994), Nature's Economy: A History of Ecological Ideas, Cambridge University Press; New York.

Yazzie, R. (1998), Navajo Peacemaking: Implications for Adjudication-Based Systems of Justice, Contemporary
Justice Review
, Vol. 1, No. 1, pp. 122-31.

Young, M.A. (1995), Restorative Community Justice: A Call to Action, National Organization for Victim Assistance: Washington, D.C.

Zehr, H. (1990), Changing Lenses, Herald Press: Scottsdale, PA.