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Gary Brierley

University of Auckland, New Zealand | Chair of Physical Geography, School of Environment

Gary Brierley is Professor and Chair of Physical Geography in the School of Environment at the University of Auckland. Building on a background in Geography, Geomorphology and Sedimentology (UK, Canada), his early research examined human impacts on river systems and the development and application of the River Styles Framework as a coherent scientific platform to guide management applications (Australia; Brierley and Fryirs, 2005). His recent work adopts a more-than-human lens, working with colleagues to Find the Voice of the River and Let the River Speak (Aotearoa). Working at the interface of Big Data (Digital Rivers) and oral (local and indigenous) narratives, this work applies an aspirational ‘river stories’ approach to engender a geography of care and hope in scoping and enacting proactive river futures.

Working with river recovery. What is possible where, over what timeframe?

Tues 28 Nov. 9.30am - 10.15am

Gary Brierley1

1The University of Auckland I Waipapa Taumata Rau

It seems that we’re forever being told that we, and our rivers, need to be more resilient. What does that mean (Brierley & Fryirs, 2024)? Does it imply that they should stay the same, continuing to be managed as they are, maintaining the status quo? Surely here in Aotearoa that’s not good enough. We have every right to expect more, and so should our rivers – they too should have their own rights. In this talk I will present a ‘more-than-human’ perspective upon prospective river futures in Aotearoa in light of fluvial pluralism (Hikuroa et al., 2021). An aspirational lens will explore what is possible where, what is realistically achievable, through proactive rather than reactive programmes and policies (Brierley & Fryirs, 2022). In scoping the Voice of the River (Brierley, 2020) in moves to Let our Rivers Speak (Salmond et al., 2019), I will reflect upon parallels between contemporary western science and mātauranga Māori (Te Mana o Te Wai) in contemplating the Rights of the River (Brierley et al., 2019). I will situate a traffic lights scheme that considers ‘what is possible where’ in the management of the Strangled Rivers of Aotearoa (Brierley et al., 2023) in relation to prospects for rewilding, and the meanings thereof (Brierley et al., 2022). Science has a key role to play in these deliberations, but which science for whom? Perhaps river stories are part of the answer (Fuller et al., 2023).

Brierley (2019). Finding the voice of the river: beyond restoration and management. Springer Nature.

Brierley & Fryirs (2022). Truths of the Riverscape: Moving beyond command-and-control to geomorphologically informed nature-based river management. Geoscience Letters, 9(1), 14.

Brierley & Fryirs (2024). Geomorphic meanings of a resilient river. In: Thoms, M. and Fuller, I. C. (Eds). Resilience and Riverine Landscapes. Elsevier. Chapter 6.

Brierley et al. (2019). A geomorphic perspective on the rights of the river in Aotearoa New Zealand. RRA, 35(10), 1640-1651.

Brierley et al. (2022). Re-imagining wild rivers in Aotearoa New Zealand. Land, 11(8), 1272.

Brierley et al. (2023). Reanimating the strangled rivers of Aotearoa New Zealand. Wiley Interdisciplinary Reviews: Water, 10(2), e1624.

Fuller et al. (2023). Managing at source and at scale: The use of geomorphic river stories to support rehabilitation of Anthropocene riverscapes in the East Coast Region of Aotearoa New Zealand. Frontiers in Environmental Science, 11, 1162099.

Hikuroa et al. (2021). Restoring sociocultural relationships with rivers: Experiments in fluvial pluralism. In Cottet et al. (Eds). River restoration: Political, social, and economic perspectives, 66-88.

Salmond et al. D. (2019). Let the rivers speak: Thinking about waterways in Aotearoa New Zealand. Policy Quarterly, 15(3).

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