Publisher Information: Paris: Didot, 1818.
The Founder of French Ecological Thought
Rauch, Francois Antoine (c. 1777-1837). Regeneration de la nature vegetale. . . . 2 vols. 8vo. xxxi, , 502; 398pp. Paris: Didot, 1818. 198 x 124 mm. Quarter sheep, gilt, c. 1818, a little rubbed. Slight dampstaining & foxing affecting a few leaves at front & back, but otherwise fine.
Second & Best Edition, revised and expanded from the 1802 original, which had the title Harmonie hydro-vegetale et meteorologique. A civil engineer, Rauch's concern for the environment stemmed from his worries about deforestation, which not only affected the agriculture and 'scenery' of the countryside, but also the whole ecological balance of crops, flora and fauna, and human interaction with the ecological system. In a wide-ranging discussion, Harmonie Hydro-Végétale discussed the interrelationships between climate, terrain and vegetation, and suggested ways to establish a state of 'harmony' between the environment and man. He included topics such as the ecological balance found in mountain regions, and suggested in the final chapter, that a ministerial department "of the interior" be set up in order to monitor ecological issues and supervise relevant matters at a local level were included.
Rauch espoused many ideas to achieve such a 'harmony', including plans for monumental avenues flanked by grand trees and country roads edged by fruit trees. He was also particularly concerned with cemeteries and graves, considering that the dead would rest easier in a 'natural' environment and recommending, therefore, that they be buried in places where nature still remains.
During the intervening gap of sixteen years before this subsequent publication Rauch made many further observations which resulted in this considerably revised, augmented and updated work. His attention turned to the idea of 'regeneration' to create a 'harmony of the elements'. Written from a viewpoint entirely in agreement with the modern ecology movement, the work argues that it is necessary to reverse the process of human destruction of the environment, particularly the world-wide destruction of forests, in order to return the planet to a state better supportive of life.
Rauch begins with a consideration of the relationship of forests to weather conditions, surveys the effects of deforestation world-wide on climate, and animal and human populations, and sets out in several chapters steps to be taken: what sorts of vegetation should be planted where, renewal of water sources, and the establishment of governmental agencies in France and all over the globe to observe the environment and take action. He urges the agencies, for example, to consider changes over short periods of time ("to what extant animals and birds are scarcer in the last thirty years" in a particular area), and to attempt regulation of factory fuel sources. In his closing argument he urges the obligation "to conserve the noble economy," and "to conserve that from which we benefit."
Most histories of conservation and ecology place the actual begininng of modern ecology fifty years after Rauch, who does not appear in our ecology or even general biographical references; however, Regeneration de la nature vegetale should be considered one of the pioneering works in the field, perhaps the earliest to sound so many themes of importance today.Book Id: 37708