Tuesday, 11 February 2014

Golden Artery Nature - looking for water

On the 29th of January I witnessed a 2,5 hour discussion in De Balie on the value and future of nature in relation to water management. It was called 'golden artery nature' in relation to water. And yes, you can taste some disappointment here, because interaction with the audience was virtually absent – no invitations for questions, feedback, comments etcetera from the people, who took the trouble to travel to Amsterdam. Anyway - you’ll find the full podium-monologue via the recordings:

The stories were quite interesting and strongly related to my research themes. The NGO Natuurmonumenten organized this debate. Against the background of reduced investments in the Ecological Structure (the policy plan to create nature reserves and connect them throughout the Dutch delta), and I would also not be surprised, about the abolishment of the Ministry of Agriculture, Nature and Fisheries, Natuurmonumenten intends to explore future and progressive collaboration with the water sector. Not only to work on nature conservation, but also to see how nature can be beneficial or supportive in water management.

Huib de Vriend (director Ecoshape) and Katheleen Poels (Royal Haskoning DHV) gave a very complete overview of projects and initiatives in the Dutch delta, that fall into the broader ecological conceptualization of water (and flood) management. The examples ranged from nature-inclusive (more room for the river) to nature-based (ecoshape) solutions. They both concurred that the incorporation of ecosystems dynamics and functions has taken a flight during the last years – the projects working in the line of thought of Ecoshape, now outnumber the formal Ecoshape projects. Classifying the projects based on landscapes, as Katheleen did, comes very handy in understanding which types of projects could be applicable to which kind of landscapes – whether it would be in the Dutch, Bangladesh, or Vietnamese deltas.

My short talk over drinks with Frans Vera, one of the authors of the Plan Stork (in turn one of the landmark publications that supported the ecological conceptualization in flood management), was also very interesting. He agreed with the ecological conceptualization 'movement' in water management and found my classification of nature-inclusive and nature-based approaches to floods appropriate and useful for my research.

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