june 2018

21jun10:1510:45François Edwards: River health?10:15 - 10:45 C: Studio 3

Event Details

I have spent my professional career working with water. I am an ecologist, which means I study how livingbeingsinteractwithoneanotherandwiththeir physical environment. I am fortunate enough to do this in river environments, a real privilege. Perhaps it was meant to be, but perhaps it’s just plain luck. But what do I do in practice? I study how water habitats and biodiversity change with the actions of humans, I identify impacts, I work out why, and I suggest possible mitigation and restoration measures. It’s river health assessment, and it is informed by going out here and monitoring the rivers, its plants, its animals. It’s not really about spotting kingfishers and otters, it’s not always about fish, the living tools that I use are small and unseen to the human eye, doing their thing at the bottom of the river. Yet these beings contribute disproportionately to the regulation of rivers. And so I diligently report on what these animals and plants tell me, in a scientific way, in the third person. However the subjects have rebelled, they want to write the script. They want to speak for themselves, they have a message to deliver to the people. They don’t want scientific jargon, they want people to know more about what makes rivers healthy or unhealthy, in plain words. They need you to see from their eyes not mine. And they know a lot more about it than I do.


François Edwards is the lead river ecologist at the Centre for Ecology & Hydrology, and the director of his own consultancy. He has worked in aquatic ecology for 20 years; his diverse career includes research, public and private sector work. Since his early days as a budding ecologist playing in the torrents of the French Alps, François has dedicated his career to the study of water ecosystems, and their management. François specialises in the monitoring and evaluation of river with respect to fundamental issues such as water abstraction, agri-environmental mitigation and climate change, in the UK and in developing countries.


(Thursday) 10:15 - 10:45


C: Studio 3

Dartington Hall, Totnes, Devon TQ9 6EN