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A systems approach to systems restoration

A great article in The Guardian about the biggest river restoration project in Europe which is “on the way to being one of the most beautiful nature areas in Europe.”.

This is taking place in Southern Netherlands on the Meuse River.  reading the article, it struck me, how systems and interrelationships si key elements and outcomes of this project which involves a number of interventions (including natural interventions and rewilding) along the river all of which is resulting in the regeneration of the whole ecosystem in and around the river.

Restored, the Meuse River

“Construction work has already been completed along 50km of the Meuse River floodplain as part of the Border Meuse project to undo 500 years of world-renowned Dutch water engineering. Big infrastructure is at the heart of the Dutch “offensive” – as opposed to “defensive” – approach to sorting out rivers, which involves relandscaping entire catchments, rather than rewetting specific at-risk areas. This approach is particularly revolutionary given that the seed for this project was planted decades ago. By contrast, the UK has only started thinking about implementing natural solutions at scale in the past few years.

“Driving the length of the restored river – which runs from Maastricht to Roosteren – is like being in a time capsule. Some of the older sections of the project, further upstream, are already thronging with life. Borgharen, an area which has been farmed since at least Roman times, was one of the first sites to be let go. Dozens of sand martens are speeding into the cliff by the river to feed their chicks; there are blackcaps, stonechats, skylarks and swallows in the sky.”

“The river shape-shifts as it winds through the landscape. It is home to otters and beavers, and wolves – which are successfully spreading through the Netherlands – are believed to be watching the valley and could move in. Free-roaming animals such as galloway cows and konik horses (whose carcasses are sold as wild meat) graze along the banks. It is a reminder that nature isn’t picky – it will move into an old construction site and quickly transform it into something beautiful. People are free to walk the length of the river along a tangle of footpaths.”

Read the full article here

What does systems thinking mean to you?

As I continue to explore and learn about systems thinking and how to apply it to the research and development work I do, I found quite interesting the question that is posed in the introduction of a course I am doing: What does systems thinking mean to you?