From Environmental to Ecological Law  book cover
1st Edition

From Environmental to Ecological Law

ISBN 9780367431082
Published December 31, 2020 by Routledge
284 Pages

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Book Description

This book increases the visibility, clarity and understanding of ecological law. Ecological law is emerging as a field of law founded on systems thinking and the need to integrate ecological limits, such as planetary boundaries, into law.

Presenting new thinking in the field, this book focuses on problem areas of contemporary law including environmental law, property law, trusts, legal theory and First Nations law and explains how ecological law provides solutions. Written by ecological law experts, it does this by 1) providing an overview of shortcomings of environmental law and other areas of contemporary law, 2) presenting specific examples of these shortcomings, 3) explaining what ecological law is and how it provides solutions to the shortcomings of contemporary law, and 4) showing how society can overcome some key challenges in the transition to ecological law.

Drawing on a diverse range of case study examples including Indigenous law, ecological restoration and mining, this volume will be of great interest to students, scholars and policymakers of environmental and ecological law and governance, political science, environmental ethics and ecological and degrowth economics.

Table of Contents

Introduction  PART 1: Overview: from environmental to ecological law  1. The transformation of environmental law into ecological law  PART 2: Problems with contemporary law: two illustrative examples  2. The targeting of environmentalists with state-corporate intelligence networks  3. Ecological jurisprudence beyond Earth: toward an outer space ethic  PART 3: Solutions in ecological law  4. Ecological law in the Anthropocene  5. Restoring land, restoring law: theorizing ecological law with ecological restoration  6. Are rights of nature radical enough for ecological law?  7. Ecological jurisprudence and Indigenous relational ontologies: beyond the “ecological Indian”?  8. Conjuring sentient beings and relations in the law: rights of nature and a comparative praxis of legal cosmologies in Latin America  9. Needs-based constraints in an ecological law transition  10. The potential of the trusteeship theory for Canadian public law and environmental governance  11. African eco-philosophy on forests: a path worth exploring for the implementation of Earth jurisprudence  PART 4: Challenges in the transition to ecological law  12. Green(ing) legal theory: social logics and their re-formation  13. Lawyers and ecological law  14. Learning sacrifice: legal education in the Anthropocene  15. Tribal ecological knowledge and the transition to ecological law  16. Practical pathways to ecological law: Greenprints and a bioregional, regenerative governance approach for Australia

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Kirsten Anker is Associate Professor at McGill University Faculty of Law. She is a member of McGill’s Economics for the Anthropocene (E4A) project, and Centre for Indigenous Conservation and Development Alternatives (CICADA).

Peter D. Burdon is Associate Professor and Associate Dean (Learning and Teaching) at the Adelaide Law School.

Geoffrey Garver teaches environmental courses at McGill University and Concordia University and coordinates law and governance research for the Leadership for the Ecozoic program (, formerly the Economics for the Anthropocene Partnership ( He has a PhD in geography and an LLM from McGill University and a JD from the University of Michigan Law School.

Michelle Maloney (BA/LLB(Hons) Australian National University, and PhD Griffith University) is Co-Founder and National Convenor of the Australian Earth Laws Alliance (AELA), Adjunct Senior Fellow, Law Futures Centre, Griffith University; and Co-Founder and Director of the New Economy Network Australia (NENA). She advocates for systems change to move industrialized societies from a human-centered to an Earth-centered governance system.

Carla Sbert is an independent researcher in Quebec, Canada. Born in Mexico, where she studied law at ITAM, she also holds an LLM from Harvard Law School and a PhD in law from the University of Ottawa.


"Environmental laws confer a green hue upon the ecologically destructive juggernaut that is industrial civilization, without affecting what drives it. This collection of essays explains why it is critical and urgent to transform legal and governance systems so that instead of legitimising the exploitation of Earth, they guide humans to fulfil ecologically beneficial roles within the community of life. More importantly, this book explores how to effect this vital transformation."

Cormac Cullinan

Author of Wild Law: A Manifesto for Earth Justice

"No more insightful book today explores how environmental laws fail us by addressing symptoms, "externalities," not root causes. Grounding law upon ecological foundations can restore Earth’s community of life through a resilient order of evolved norms. This book is essential reading for everyone who struggles with climate disruption and biodiversity’s broken web of life."

Former Chair of the IUCN World Commission on Environmental Law 

Executive Governor, International Council of Environmental Law

Kerlin Professor Emeritus, Elisabeth Haub School of Law at Pace University


"This book offers a stimulating and important perspective." 

Edith Brown Weiss

Former Chair of the World Bank Inspection Panel, Georgetown Law, Washington, DC