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‘The Future of Freshwaters: lessons from the Merchant of Venice. Have we backed the wrong horses in

Land and water are inseparable, like blood and flesh. Current philosophies of conservation must be replaced by restoration and maintenance of mechanisms that stabilise the state of the biosphere

Land and water are inseparable, like blood and flesh. But our conventional approach to conservation barely recognizes this and not surprisingly almost every freshwater habitat in the UK is badly damaged and most are still in decline. They are also likely to remain so for although the current EU Water Framework Directive is revolutionary legislation, it is being undermined by conservative, traditional approaches and political considerations. The guts of the solution to our local UK problem lie in solving the current major threats of climate change and ecosystem destruction, which exacerbate the world-wide problems of nutrient and toxic pollution, acidification, drainage, engineering damage, and so many invasive species that the world's lakes, rivers and wetlands are vastly changed from what they were only decades ago, let alone in the pre-industrial period. The approaches of earth system science and replacement of current philosophies of conservation, essentially versions of gardening and zookeeping, in favour of restoration and maintenance of mechanisms that stabilised the state of the biosphere until very recently, are the only solution.

Brian Moss has been Holbrook Gaskell Professor of Botany at the University of Liverpool since 1989 but will be unlikely to be able to identify the pink-flowered tree in your garden because he has been a freshwater ecologist for many years and the botanical connection is with algae and aquatic plants. He has held posts in Malawi, the USA and UK and has taught or carried out research or both on six continents over a period of over forty years. He is an experimentalist whose current research involves eutrophication, lake restoration and climate change and in addition to the conventional long list of papers in learned journals, he has published a well-known text book on the Ecology of Freshwaters, a New Naturalist book on ‘The Broads’, and a manual for shallow lake restoration.
He is also much concerned with wider global environmental problems and how art and poetry might be used to get over messages about the environment to the wider public. He has been President of the British Phycological Society, Vice-president of the British Ecological Society and recently was elected President of the International Association for Limnology. He was awarded the Association’s Naumann-Thienemann Medal in 2007 for his research and leadership in creating new understanding of shallow lake function. Despite all this he would want to be remembered as a non-establishment, liberal and liberated iconoclast.


Professor Brian Moss | talks


Date and Time:

20 March 2009 at 6:30 pm


2 hours



Birkbeck College
Malet Street

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Organised by:

Ecology and Conservation Studies Society
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Available from:

E-mail: environmentevents@FLL.bbk.ac.uk for booking and venue details, (telephone 020 7679 1069)

Additional Information:

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