Over the past decade a shift can be noticed from ecological restoration to ecological design, where ecological design stands for a technocratic approach that courts hubris and mastery rather than humility and self-restraint. Following Eric Higgs, this shift can be seen as a “hyperactive and heedless response“ to global environmental change, especially climate change. The new technocratic approach may be best characterized as enlightened (or prudential) anthropocentrism, where nature is only allowed that degree of agency which is required to deliver the services that are essential for human well-being. It is not only questionable if we have the scientific and technical abilities to purposeful design ecosystems that will serve our needs, but also if the new approach will be sufficient to protect biodiversity in the long run.
There has recently been growing interest in the role of metaphors in environmentalism and nature conservation. Metaphors not only structure how we perceive and think but also how we should act. The metaphor of nature as a book provokes a different attitude and kind of nature management than the metaphor of nature as a machine, an organism, or a network. This article explores four clusters of metaphors that are frequently used in framing ecological restoration: metaphors from the domains of engineering and cybernetics; art and aesthetics; medicine and health care; and geography. The article argues that these metaphors, like all metaphors, are restricted in range and relevance, and that we should adopt a multiple vision on metaphor. The adoption and development of such a multiple vision will facilitate communication and cooperation across the boundaries that separate different kinds of nature management and groups of experts and other stakeholders.