Greening In The Red Zone: Valuing Community-Based Ecological Restoration In Human Vulnerability And Security Contexts

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This dissertation explores the role of community-based ecological restoration, or "greening," after destructive large-scale geophysical, technical, or military events. It raises the question "why do people turn to greening in the face of conflict and disaster?" This work expands upon explanations from a growing body of research on the impacts of more passive contact with nature, as well as a smaller literature on the outcomes of the act or active practice of nature stewardship. As such, it draws upon a growing network of "resilience scholars" -- social and ecological scientists who argue that change is to be expected and planned for, and that identifying sources of resilience in the face of change is crucial to the long-term well-being of humans, their communities, and the local environment. This dissertation addresses several gaps in the resilience literature, including (1) the lack of studies focused on cultural systems, (2) the relatively few studies that explicitly re-embed humans in ecosystems, and (3) the need for more studies that integrate the theory and science of individual human resilience with broader ecological systems theory and research exemplified by socialecological systems (SES) resilience scholarship. Papers in this dissertation provide results on symbol and ritual understandings of trees and tree planting after disaster, and how these ecological symbols and rituals contribute to re-creation and restoration of sense of place, perhaps a first principle in restoration of social and natural capital and the attendant abilities of people to participate in restarting previously existing, or in catalyzing new virtuous cycles within SES. Results from the specific case of New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina also show how tree symbols and rituals are remembered, reconstituted, and reproduced, and come to represent a cluster of social social-ecological practices that deal with disturbance and maintain system resilience. mechanisms that can be viewed as tangible evidence of social mechanisms behind The dissertation as a whole argues that the constellation of social-ecological memories, social-ecological symbols and rituals, the resulting relationships between human actors and other system components; and feedbacks and cycles catalyzed by relationships among trees, forests and humans, all contribute to system memory, processes involved in regeneration, renewal, and resilience.

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Civic Ecology; Greening; Post-conflict; Post-disaster; Environment and Security; Resilience; symbols and ritual; feedback


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Krasny, Marianne Elizabeth

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Pfeffer, Max John
Stedman, Richard Clark
Bain, Mark Brian

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Natural Resources

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Ph. D., Natural Resources

Degree Level

Doctor of Philosophy

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Government Document




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dissertation or thesis

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