Science and faith: links in resource management

Published 06 August 2008

murray.jpgA seminar in Armidale this Friday (8 August) will focus on the use of water resources in the Murray-Darling Basin in exploring links between science and Christianity in managing resources and protecting the environment.

Environmental scientist Dr Darren Ryder from Ecosystem Management at the University of New England and Uniting Church minister Rev. David Reichardt from Sydney will be the two speakers at the seminar, which will provide opportunity for discussion and questions.

The seminar, titled “Water in Science and Faith – a look at the Murray-Darling Basin”, is the 2nd Annual Faith and Environment Seminar hosted by the Uniting Church Chaplaincy at UNE and the Armidale Uniting Church, and organised by Rev. Judy Redman.

The seminar will be presented twice – first in the afternoon and then again in the evening. The afternoon session begins at 3.30 pm in the Wesley Hall of Armidale Uniting Church, 112-114 Rusden Street, and will be followed by a soup and damper tea. The evening session begins at 7 pm in the Gallery of UNE’s Earle Page College, and will be followed by supper.

Dr Ryder will talk about the role of science in the sustainable management of water resources in the Murray-Darling Basin. “In Australia there are approximately 500 large dams and many thousands of weirs, locks and other small structures that regulate flow,” he said. “Changes to the flow regime in regulated rivers – particularly those in the Murray-Darling Basin – have often had a negative impact on the environmental health of aquatic ecosystems, affecting biodiversity, food webs, energy transport, and ecosystem function. The current Water Reform process initiated by the Federal Government has provisions for the allocation of water to the environment with the aim of ‘revitalising our rivers and waterways’.”

Dr Ryder’s talk will explore the idea that science must underpin this reform process. Understanding the effects of environmental flow releases on river ecosystems is crucial if we are to manage water resources to sustain both river health and the communities that rely on secure water supplies from rivers. Examples from the upper Murray River, the Murrumbidgee River, and rivers in the northern Basin will highlight the importance of the interaction among scientists, water users and the community for the effective sustainable management of water resources in the Murray-Darling Basin.

Mr Reichardt’s talk, titled “Ears to Hear: an Ecotheological Field Study of Uniting Churchgoers in the Murray-Darling Basin”, will present the results of a field study using focus groups gathered from eight Uniting Church congregations from different parts of the Basin. “The field study forms part of my doctoral studies on how the Murray-Darling Basin’s human inhabitants have affected its waterways,” he said. “In my talk, I will explore how the Christian beliefs, cultures and worldviews of residents of the Murray-Darling Basin have influenced the ways in which they relate to and affect their ecological context.”

Entry to the seminar is free, but a donation to help cover costs would be welcome.

For more details go to: or contact Rev Judy Redman, the Uniting Church Chaplain, on 6773 3739 (w) 6771 2932 (h) or