A short course on “Working with Nature in Rivers: Managing Ecosystem Services and Risks” was held September 18, 2017, in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, coincident with the PIANC SMART Rivers 2017 Conference. The workshop provided an overview of the activities of the PIANC Environmental Commission (EnviCom) specifically as they relate to Working with Nature (WwN). PIANC developed the WwN approach to consider project objectives for ports and navigational infrastructure in the context of the ecosystem, and to foster designs that use natural processes to achieve project goals and improve ecosystem habitat. The WwN approach has the potential to yield multiple economic, social, and environmental benefits, in addition to achieving port / navigational management goals.
The short course drew from three active PIANC EnviCom Working Groups (WG): WG 175 on Managing Environmental Risks, WG 176 on Working with Nature, and WG 195 on Ecosystem Services. An international collection of case examples were presented illustrating how projects can effectively manage ecosystem services and risks in riverine settings. Each case study was discussed as it relates to riverine transport infrastructure.
Participants in the short course were engineers and scientists from nine different countries representing waterborne transport infrastructure organizations worldwide. Over the half-day short course, six technical presentations were presented, which included a broad range of issues related to identifying, developing and quantifying environmental benefits associated with applying EWN principles to navigation, such as innovative engineering and operational practices, modeling, benefits quantification, and strategic communications with stakeholders. A facilitated discussion followed to identify opportunities, needs, and constraints relevant to implementing EWN in riverine systems. The short course created a foundation for more extensive, detailed use of EWN in navigation projects in the U.S. and worldwide.