Photo: Land Trust.

Nature Night Recap: Restoring the Dignity of Rivers with Dr. Colin Thorne

Feb 27, 2020 by Deschutes Land Trust
River scientist and professor Dr. Colin Thorne presented our February Nature Night on Restoring the Dignity of Rivers. Enjoy takeaways from his presentation and find suggested resources to learn more about rivers close to home and around the world.

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Thanks to those of you who came out to our February Nature Night, Restoring the Dignity of Rivers! It was an educational and engaging presentation from Dr. Colin Thorne.

 Enjoy some interesting takeaways and additional resources from his talk below, or watch a recording of his presentation here.

If you have trouble viewing the slides from Colin's presentation below, click here. 


Restoring the Dignity of Rivers Takeaways and Resources:

Colin's presentation focused around the idea that rivers have dignity. For Colin, this idea of dignity is demonstrated in a quote by philosopher Immanuel Kant, "everything has either a price or a dignity. Anything that has a price can be replaced by something else as its equivalent, but anything that is above all price, and therefore admits of no equivalent, has a dignity." In this way, Colin challenged us all to think of each and every river as irreplaceable. 

Using examples from around the world and at home, Colin shared how rivers hold value far beyond their economic functions. These values include ecological, recreational, spiritual, and more. As we begin to value our rivers for these additional functions, we begin to see how irreplaceable rivers really are. Some communities have even given rivers the same rights that people have. As we think more about the rivers in Central Oregon, the Deschutes, the Metolius, and the Crooked River, we wonder, whether our rivers are treated with dignity?

The fundamental rights held by all rivers stated in the Universal Declaration of the Rights of Rivers:

  1. The right to flow.
  2. The right to be free from pollution.
  3. The right to feed and be fed by sustainable aquifers. 
  4. The right to perform essential functions within its ecosystem. 
  5. The right to native biodiversity.
  6. The right to restoration.

Additional resources:


About Dr. Colin Thorne

Dr. Colin Thorne has studied rivers for nearly 50 years and has worked on every continent except Antarctica. While employed primarily as an academic and tasked with performing original research, he has always considered the applicability and utility of his findings. He has acted as an advisor to river agencies and governments, globally. His books and journal papers are widely cited and his research has been recognized through awards from the American Society of Civil Engineers and the British Royal Geographical Society.


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