2015 Nanaimo Wetlands Workshop: "Wildlife adapt to the environment; we can only hope that humans learn this message in time," stated Peter Law, keynote speaker
Note to Readers:
The BC Wildlife Federation’s Wetlands Education Program (WEP) helps build the capacity of British Columbian citizens to determine their backyard wetland assets, and increase their community’s environmental health using this knowledge.
In January 2015, Nanaimo was the venue for an event titled Working Group Workshop to Conserve and Enhance Wetlands on Vancouver Island. The workshop presentation team included Peter Law and Jim Dumont.
Peter Law, a Director with the Partnership for Water Sustainability in British Columbia, provided a keynote presentation to set the scene for “convening for action”. Jim Dumont, a leading water resource and infrastructure specialist in BC, provided an engineer’s perspective on how biologists and engineers can develop a common understanding of the best possible solutions.
CAVI-Convening for Action:
Peter Law bridged into his presentation with a story about his volunteer work with school children. He showed the photo above to capture audience attention so that they would heed his message.
“Wildlife are smarter than humans…they have adapted to their environment over time to ensure their survival. We can only hope that humans learn this message in time before we have tipped the balance too far,” stated Peter Law in his opening comment.
“Kids are learning this message in school through live owl presentations, where kids learn about how the owl has adapted to become one of the most efficient hunters in the woods.”
An Engineer’s Perspective on Benefits of a Common Understanding
“The messaging in Jim Dumont’s presentation clearly resonated with the audience. This was apparent when half the attendees gravitated to his breakout group session in the afternoon. That fact speaks for itself,” observed Peter Law.
“Throughout the day, I was telling biologists that Jim Dumont is a sage, and that they would benefit by paying close attention to the content of his presentation and the practical experience upon which his content is based.”
Translate Key Concepts and Practices
“Biologists and engineers need to have a dialog that includes translation of key concepts and practices for the other profession. Often the technical words which are used carry a different context to these very different professions,” stated Jim Dumont.
“A second area where we could develop better communication is in understanding the processes both professions apply. Engineers and biologists approach problems using very different methods.”
“Engineers approach design using very specific methods which have been established to provide a uniform result for a wide range of projects. Biologists approach a problem by first defining the goals and objectives before establishing the methods to be used.”
“These are fundamentally different approaches and we need to bridge the approaches to achieve success when the two professions participate on a project. Engineers need to understand the objective driven performance standards applied by biologists which may result in very different needs for a range of projects.”
“Biologists need to understand the methodologies and criteria applied by engineers as a result of published and accepted design criteria. The result includes engineering design to meet objectives that would be applicable in an urban setting but may not be appropriate in a natural setting.”
“We need to create a common understanding that can be shared between the professions to achieve more consistent success on projects where both professions are involved,” concluded Jim Dumont.
To Learn More:
To download a PDF copy of the PowerPoint presentation by Jim Dumont, click on Stormwater and Wetlands: A Review for Non-Engineers and Engineers.
To download a PDF copy of the keynote presentation by Peter Law, click on CAVI-Convening for Action on Vancouver Island: An Overview
For details of the workshop program, click on Wetland Conservation along Eastern Vancouver Island: A workshop for municipal and regional stakeholders (January 29 in Nanaimo)