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PLENARY SPEAKERS

Professor Gary Brierley:

Gary Brierley1Gary Brierley was educated at Durham University, UK and Simon Fraser University in Vancouver Canada. He completed his post-doctoral work at the Australian National University, working on the impacts of environmental change in Australasia and the Pacific region, prior to working at Macquarie University in Sydney. He is presently Chair of Physical Geography in the School of Environment at the University of Auckland. Gary is a landscape scientist. His research promotes the use of integrative scientific understandings to inform river management practices. He has published over 150 fully reviewed publications, on topics ranging from geomorphology, geo-ecology and sedimentology to concerns for rehabilitation practices, environmental justice, ethnogeomorphology (understandings of biophysical-and-cultural landscapes) and environmental governance. He is co-developer of the River Styles framework, an approach to the use of landscape science to inform river management applications. This work has been applied in various parts of the world. In 2004 this framework was shortlisted for the inaugural International River Prize. This work was awarded the research innovation prize by Macquarie University; it is one of the 50 research exemplars selected to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the university.

A new dawn is upon us: The use of emerging technologies in river science and management
Place-based knowledges underpin effective approaches to river science and management. Emerging technologies present remarkable capacity to ‘know’ each river system. But, how are we ‘knowing’? Which scientific frameworks and approaches to classification do we choose to use? How integrative are these understandings (i.e. do they convey a conceptual model showing how a given river system ‘works’? Who writes the algorithms for automated monitoring procedures? How are these understandings used alongside local knowledges to generate ‘owned’ approaches to management practice? As we move beyond inappropriate use of coarse-resolution, remotely-sensed data and overly-generalised understandings/framings, what lessons have we learnt that can support effective use of more precise (higher resolution), more recurrently derived, catchment-specific datasets? Putting aside concerns for data overload, for which we always seem to find answers one way or another, this presentation examines how we construct data gathering procedures and associated approaches to learning in efforts to inform proactive river management in better ways. A future focus has always been important in management endeavours, but in the rapidly-changing world of complexity, contingency, emergence and no-analogue states, where greater levels of uncertainty are inevitable, these deliberations have become even more significant, fashioning the ways we live with our rivers (increasingly, the choices that are available to us). We cannot control uncertainties – we have to learn to live with them. The perspective outlined in this talk will endeavour to speak for the river itself, in efforts to find, and live with, ‘the voice of the river’.

 

Dr Sonja Jähnig:

Jähnig 16Sonja is a research group leader at the Leibniz-Institute of Freshwater Ecology and Inland Fisheries (IGB, Berlin). She has an interest in global change effects in river ecosystems and focuses on the influence of abiotic factors on aquatic organisms and communities, integrating different spatial and temporal scales. She has applied species distribution models to predict climate change impacts on riverine invertebrate communities and has developed an integrated modelling approach that focuses on flow and on global change induced flow alterations. She has recently started to include ecosystem services provisioning into forecasting.

Modelling riverine biodiversity and ecosystems service delivery - simple, integrated, or complex?
Freshwater biodiversity is highly threatened worldwide and we are witnessing a rapid decrease of biodiversity in freshwater ecosystems, which is exceeding their terrestrial or marine counterparts. Rivers are particularly affected due to their small relative proportion in area, high degree of habitat fragmentation, distinct internal connectivity within the network, and their close links to surrounding terrestrial areas which may result in severe anthropogenic impact given by land use in the respective watershed. Today, freshwater management for rivers is increasingly supported by models to foster decision-making, e.g. to predict ecological consequences of different management alternatives or to account for potential future changes in the ecosystem, independently of environmental management. Various modelling approaches exist for aquatic ecosystems with different levels of sophistication and advancement when comparing modelling methods for hydrological regimes, riverine habitats, species, or ecosystem aspects such ecosystems functions or service provision. Most approaches so far have in common that they focused on one aspect only, neglecting the integrated nature of rivers. I will present different modelling approaches ranging from 1) global change projections by species distribution models, 2) integrated modelling approaches with a more comprehensive view on riverine habitats, towards a 3) projection and optimization framework which assesses the status of biodiversity and evaluates simultaneously ecosystem services. Thus I will present a framework which considers multiple policy and stakeholder objectives for biodiversity and ecosystem services, their deficits, management alternatives and cost-effectiveness of management solutions.

 

Dr Gerald Kaufmann:

GeraldJKauffman

Gerald is the Waikato River Authority plenary speaker for the 2017 conference. He holds the position of Director, University of Delaware‐Water Resources Center,  one of the 54 National Institutes for Water Resources (NIWR) supported by the United States Geological Survey, along with joint faculty appointments in the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, School of Public Policy, and Geography Department. He is also Delaware’s first “Water Master” appointed by the Water Supply Coordinating Council Act of 2000 and co‐chairs the Christina Basin Clean Water Partnership, an interstate effort between the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Delaware River Basin Commission, State of Delaware, and Commonwealth of Pennsylvania to restore the watershed that provides 60 percent of the First State's drinking water supply.  Jerry conducted a review of restoration activities on the Waikato River co-ordinated by the Waikato River Authority. He lives in Newark, Delaware with his family in the White Clay Creek National Wild and Scenic River watershed.

Catchments, Watersheds, and Basins: The Global Governance and Policy of International River Science
You call it a catchment and I call it a watershed and they call it a basin but across the globe water resources are best protected by the common themes of international river basin governance and management. We will discuss the governance, economics, and policies of investing in watersheds, a topic that Delaware as a small peninsular state and New Zealand as a small island country, have much in common. In the continents throughout the world, river basin management is practiced with various degrees of sophistication, from the user payers approach of the European Union and South America to the privatized systems of the United Kingdom and the autocratic ministries of Russia and Central Asia. We'll discuss the revenue and governance structures of the Agencies de L'eau, Genossenschaften, and Dutch Polders of Europe, the RBOs of Morocco and Brazil, and the water ministries of China, Vietnam, and the Far East. It's been said that the nations on Earth are divided by borders but the people on the Planet are united by a common river.

 

 Professor Julian Olden: 

Julian Olden

Julian is a Professor in the School of Aquatic and Fishery Sciences and co-director of the Center for Creative Conservation, both at the University of Washington. Broadly motivated by a future where people recognise and respect the diverse values provided by functioning freshwater ecosystems, Julian seeks to integrate science-based approaches with on-the-ground management and conservation decisions. His research focuses the challenges associated with water resource management, dams, invasive species and climate change. Julian actively engages in generating and communicating science, and believes that uncensored discussions are essential to meet the environmental challenges of the future and to strengthen the modern conservation movement.

New vision, new life, new hope, for dammed rivers
Harnessed, managed, and exploited for human benefit, the damming of rivers supported the birth of ancient civilizations and modern societies. Over the millennia, dams have tamed streamflow for myriad reasons that include delivering water for drinking, irrigating crops, supporting recreation, and providing flood control and hydropower. Despite these well recognized benefits, river regulation by dams has also caused considerable ecological damage and the loss of important ecosystem services valued by society. But our time together will not be spent lamenting these dam(n) problems. Instead, we explore many of the new, exciting, and at times controversial, ways in which rivers are being re-born, restored, and ultimately re-envisioned for the future. From daylighting streams to dismantling dams to designing flows, our journey together will be filled with a little sorrow and a ton of hope.

 

Dr Melissa Parsons:

Melissa Parsons

Melissa Parsons is a river scientist with broad-ranging and interdisciplinary research interests in river and floodplain resilience, natural hazards, resilience assessment, water resource policy and management, river monitoring and assessment, large flood disturbances and river ecology. Melissa works at the interface between theoretical and applied science, examining the ways that concepts such as resilience can be applied to deliver management and policy outcomes.
Melissa’s current research is focused on natural hazards and she leads a project within the Bushfire and Natural Hazards CRC to develop an Australian Natural Disaster Resilience Index. Other projects examine attitudes towards natural hazards, the psychology of flood driving behaviour, the role of social capital in natural disaster recovery and the use of citizen’s juries to develop community-based strategies of flood risk management and preparedness.

Extreme floods and river resilience: a social-ecological perspective
It has been almost 20 years since one of the first issues of the journal Ecosystems introduced the concept of large infrequent disturbance. Since then many studies have demonstrated the geomorphological and ecological effects of extreme floods, often accompanied by warnings about the ways in which climate-related increases in the magnitude and frequency of extreme floods may affect river ecosystems. Yet rivers are also social-ecological systems in which social and ecological elements are linked through feedback mechanisms. This invokes a relativist view in which knowledge and understanding of extreme flood disturbance exists in relation to society, culture and experience, rather than solely as the domain of realist science. Resilience - the ability of a system to absorb disturbance, maintain the same state and respond and adapt to change - is a concept applied in both river science and social science, and may be a useful umbrella for aligning knowledge about the social and ecological effects of extreme flood disturbances. In this talk I will explore the effects of extreme floods from social and ecological perspectives and attempt to reconcile them under a resilience framework.

  

Associate Professor Linda Te Aho:

Linda Te Aho2

Linda Te Aho is of Waikato-Tainui, Ngāti Korokī Kahukura descent and is an Associate Professor in Law at Te Piringa - Faculty of Law, University of Waikato, Hamilton. Linda was appointed by her iwi of Waikato-Tainui as a guardian mandated under the 2010 settlement for the co-management of the Waikato River ecosystem to develop the long term vision for its holistic restoration. Linda serves as a Ministerial adviser on Māori land reforms. She has provided expert advice to the government and to iwi leaders on reforms to the Resource Management Act and freshwater issues. Linda served as a lead negotiator for Ngāti Koroki Kahukura Treaty Claims and continues to provide specialist advice on Treaty of Waitangi claims and Post-Settlement Governance issues to iwi and hapū organisations.

Te Mana o te Wai
A Māori perspective on rivers and the place of indigenous values in river management.
Water resources are becoming scarce and valuable. We are witnesses to the importance for all communities when the health of our waterways is at risk. Governance and management systems have not been able to cope with legacy issues, nor can they cope with the complex problems of diffuse pollution from intensive farming, climate change, pest species and population growth. The Government’s recent policy proposal, “Next Steps for Freshwater”, proposes new criteria for efficient and sustainable use, supporting economic development, and encouraging good management practice. In recognising that the Indigenous Māori of New Zealand ‘have rights and interests in freshwater’, the Government proposes ways to improve their involvement in freshwater decisions. But do the government proposals go far enough? There are increasing calls to include traditional Māori knowledge into decision-making frameworks, and terms such as ‘kaitiakitanga’ (the responsibility to take of natural resources) and ‘Te Mana o Te Wai’ (the integrity of water) have gained traction. This paper will explain these core concepts and provide a Māori perspective on rivers and the place of indigenous values in river management with reference to case studies involving two major North Island Rivers, the Waikato and Whanganui.

  

Dr Catherine Knight:

Catherine Knight 1Dr Catherine Knight is an environmental historian and policy specialist who has published extensively on the environmental history of both New Zealand and Japan. Her most recent book, New Zealand’s Rivers: An environmental history (Canterbury University Press, 2016) was longlisted for the Ockham New Zealand Book Awards 2017 and was selected as one of the Listener’s Best Books for 2016. Her previous book, Ravaged Beauty: An environmental history of the Manawatu (Dunmore Press, 2014), won the J.M. Sherrard major award for excellence in regional and local history, and Palmerston North Heritage Trust’s inaugural award for the best work of history relating to the Manawatu. Catherine is a policy and communications consultant and lives on a small farmlet in the Manawatu, where she and her family are working to restore the totara forest indigenous to that area.

How have we valued New Zealand's rivers? A historical perspective.
In this presentation, environmental historian Dr Catherine Knight will answer this question by tracing the history of people’s interactions with rivers since they first arrived in this South Pacific archipelago centuries ago. Her conclusions may surprise you, but will without doubt provide valuable context to the debate about our rivers and the collision of values we face in relation to fresh water today. Catherine is the author of New Zealand’s Rivers: An Environmental History (Canterbury University Press, 2016). 

 

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