Protection of Wetlands: “Engineers and biologists approach problems using very different methods,” observed Jim Dumont at Vancouver Island workshop


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 IslandJim 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.


Translate Key Concepts and Practices

Jim-Dumont_2011_120p“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.”

Fundamentally Different Approaches

“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.”Jim Dumont_Wetlands Workshop_Jan2015_question

“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.”

Create a Common Understanding

“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 download a PDF copy of the PowerPoint presentation by Jim Dumont, click on Stormwater and Wetlands: A Review for Non-Engineers and Engineers.

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) 

Jim-Dumont_Wetlands-Workshop_Jan2015_multiple objectives