Keep beavering away

Here is a nice inspirational piece for you. Over at the Sticky Tongue is a blog about river restoration. In it the beaver is highlighted as a highly valued ecosystem engineer. When rivers in North America are being ‘fixed’ or ‘improved’ it is not that surprising how much is unknown unknowns:

A lot of rivers are in trouble and need work and restoration, but it’s amazing how little we know about the systems we’re trying to fix,” she said. “We know they’re broken, but we don’t exactly know what they should look like because we know so little about how many of our river systems function.

Rather than tear down the whole milldam and radically change the surrounding ecosystem, the researchers recommend river restorers only remove part of it.

the restoration target for streams with forested riparian zones has got to acknowledge the diversity brought to river systems by active beaver populations

Now for me this has direct analogies with the introduction of so called ‘knowledge systems’ and wholesale introductions of new processes. Far too often we see the new, so called ‘Knowledge Strategy’, as concentrating on the flow of knowledge rather than leaving the natural pools and irregular river bottoms that create eddy currents, turbulence and diversity of knowledge. So what I take from this is research is that we need to celebrate and protect the ‘knowledge beaver’ in our organisations and communities, working with them rather than imposing a competitive ‘better’ solution. This would result in a much more locally contextual solution that fits despite the uncertainty of how it actually works.


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