【Sustainable Development】Transition: From Engineering to an Ecological Perspective

The Preparatory Office of Dharma Drum University invited Professor Edwin Herricks of the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, to give a lecture entitled "Transition: From Engineering to an Ecological Perspective " on August 22, 2011.

Professor Herricks is an internationally renowned ecological engineering scholar. His specific research areas include (1) analysis of organism habitat relationships in streams and wetlands directed to restoration and naturalization, (2) systems analysis of human-natural system interactions, and (3) development of engineering design approaches that minimize environmental and ecological impact.

During the lecture Professor Herricks delineated that maintaining the health of our environment and ecosystems means “the prediction of services that ensure the sustainability of all species in the ecosystems.” Nonetheless, the procurement of services is "limited.” When human beings’ excessive, uncontrollable consumption of natural resources exceeds the speed and capacity of Nature’s recovery, unpredictable, detrimental consequences in the forms of loss of human lives, properties, and environmental disasters will occur.

He used many examples of environmental alterations, on a panoramic scale, to stress the necessity of the transition to ecological engineering. He also demonstrated the way to make efficient assessments of the type of engineering that is most compatible with and beneficial to the ecosystem in its totality.

Once we recognize the complexity of the ecosystems, we can easily transition from traditional engineering to ecological engineering, which puts the protection of the ecosystems as its first priority. In conclusion, Professor Herricks solemnly expressed his aspiration of motivating human thoughts and actions that respect and benefit the interactions between man and Nature, in order to achieve satisfactory environmental sustainability.