Ecological restoration is premised upon the idea of improving the environment where it has been degraded, damaged, or destroyed. These projects often face technical and financial challenges, but concerns have also been raised about the conceptual bases for ecological restoration. Among the most persistent of these conceptual questions are how to determine a meaningful reference condition for restoration, and how restoration activities influence categories of nature and authenticity. Restoration of sites with complex land use histories, such as militarized landscapes, encounter particular challenges. This chapter focuses on these questions of how restoration occurs on transitioning military lands, and how managers need to balance ecological objectives with cultural concerns.
Keywords: ecological restoration, reference condition, militarized landscapes, Rocky Mountain Arsenal, Vieques, unexploded ordnance, environmental contamination