Working with Nature, which is explained in a PIANC Position Paper, calls for an important shift in thinking in our approach to navigation development projects to help deliver mutually beneficial, ‘win-win’ solutions. It promotes a proactive, integrated philosophy which focuses on achieving the project objectives in an ecosystem context rather than assessing the consequences of a predefined project design and focuses on identifying win-win solutions rather than simply minimising ecological harm.
Working with Nature considers the project objectives from the perspective of the natural system rather than from the perspective of technical design. However, Working with Nature does not mean that we no longer achieve our development objectives: rather it ensures that these objectives are satisfied in a way which maximises opportunities and – importantly – reduces frustrations, delays and associated extra costs.
In essence, adopting the Working with Nature philosophy means doing things in a different order. Instead of developing a design and then assessing its environmental impacts – an approach which inevitably revolves around damage limitation and is ultimately not sustainable – Working with Nature advocates the following steps: