Siwan Lovett

Siwan Lovett

Siwan Lovet, Australia

Siwan has been working in natural resources management for the past 20 years and has a love of rivers, people and storytelling. When not out on the river working with local communities, Siwan is facilitating leadership and team-building workshops. She manages the on-ground Rivers of Carbon initiative, as well as the Australian River Restoration Centre that she established to promote, inspire and support people who care about rivers. She lives in Canberra with her husband Tom, son Finn and corgis Merry and Pippa. Favourite past times are camping, kayaking, gardening, singing and great conversations with friends.

Presentation Title: Why ‘mess is best’ for inspiring community action

Rivers of Carbon is a program that empowers people to act in response to climate change by inspiring and supporting them to protect and restore riparian areas.   The program uses social science to ‘connect the dots’ between scientific information, restoration practice and the realities of running a productive farm.  Over the last year, the Rivers of Carbon team have come to the realisation that ‘mess is best’ for riparian restoration.  Work by Professor Ellen Wohl shows that ‘neat and tidy’ riparian areas store less than 2% of carbon than messy, complex and diverse riparian areas.  This research has acted as a springboard for our Rivers of Carbon Community Conversations where we have discussions about “why we want to mess it up and slow the water down” in our riparian areas.    People relate to the concept of ‘mess’, so we take that understanding and link it to complexity, diversity and carbon rich, all positive outcomes for riparian areas.  In contrast ‘neat and tidy’ riparian areas are simple, carbon poor and boring.  This presentation will show how a simple concept about ‘mess’ has enlivened and attracted local communities to events and workshops that build on a theme, and extrapolate it to broader river restoration, climate change and community capacity building objectives.

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