Nature knows best: Nature‐based solutions in the built environment, with Amy Oen and Burton Suedel

Oyster reef breakwaters (made from bagged, recycled oyster shells) are an example of a nature-based solution.
Oyster reef breakwaters (made from bagged, recycled oyster shells), an example of a nature-based solution. Credit: Louisiana Sea Grant (CC BY 2.0).

Podcast Summary:

The built environment—think of any type of infrastructure that humans use on a regular basis, from highways, to bridges, to massive river dams. These are all types of human-made structures (or man-made, archaically), in the style that has dominated our world for more than a century—lots and lots of concrete and steel. However, a newer, more sustainable approach is gaining steam: Nature-based solutions. If you’re not familiar with that term yet, you are in the right place.

In this episode, we speak with the guest editors of an IEAM special series that focuses on nature-based solutions, Amy Oen and Burton Suedel, to learn more. Access their special series, “Incorporating Nature-based Solutions into the Built Environment,” in the January 2022 issue of IEAM.

Listen on iTunes or YouTube.

About the Guests

Amy Oen head shot

Amy Oen is a senior research scientist at the Norwegian Geotechnical Institute (NGI, She holds a PhD from the Department of Biology and Department of Geosciences at the University of Oslo, Norway (2006) and completed post-doctoral studies at the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering at Stanford University (2009). She has been working in the environmental technology field for the last 25 years and since her employment at NGI in 2001 has collaborated on a number of national and European research projects at the interface between academia, industry and government to achieve acceptable solutions to challenging environmental problems. Her current research focuses on the effects of climate change on the transport of contaminants, the use of climate service to improve decision making, and the assessment of risk reduction measures to include nature-based solutions to reduce environmental risk in a sustainability context. Oen has served as a Senior Editor of Integrated Environmental Assessment and Management since 2017.

Burton Suedel head shot

Burton Suedel is a research biologist at the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) Engineer Research and Development Center, Environmental Laboratory in Vicksburg, Mississippi. He earned his bachelor’s master’s degrees in biology from the University of North Texas and his Ph.D. in biological sciences from the University of Mississippi. 

Since 2005, Suedel has served as the Team Leader of the Risk Integration Team where he focuses on risk assessment and management of dredged material and invasive species, incorporating uncertainty into ecosystem restoration projects, and investigating ways in which sustainable engineering, environmental, social, and economic benefits can be incorporated into waterborne transport infrastructure planning. He has received international awards and recognition for applying Engineering With Nature® principles in practice at multiple USACE freshwater and marine coastal projects. Suedel also manages the USACE Dredging Operations Technical Support (DOTS) program that facilitates transfer of existing and new navigation and dredging technology to stakeholders in the USACE’s navigation mission. 

Suedel is an active member of the Western Dredging Association (WEDA), the Society of Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry (SETAC), and PIANC, where he serves as the Principal U.S. Representative to the PIANC Environmental Commission (EnviCom). His PIANC activities include chairing PIANC EnviCom Working Group 143 on Conducting Initial Assessments of Environmental Effects of Navigation and Infrastructure Projects, and chairing Working Group 175 on Managing Environmental Risks of Waterborne Transport Infrastructure. He currently serves as the U.S. representative to PIANC Inland Navigation Commission Working Group 203 on Sustainable Inland Navigation and is mentoring EnviCom Working Group 214 on Sediment Beneficial Use.

Articles Referenced in this Podcast

Suedel, B.C. and Oen, A.M.P. (2022), Introduction to the Special Series, “Incorporating Nature-based Solutions into the Built Environment.” Integr Environ Assess Manag, 18: 39-41.

Access all 12 articles in the special series, “Incorporating Nature-based Solutions into the Built Environment,” on the IEAM website.

This podcast includes sound clips from Free SFX.

Permission to use “Intentions” as the opening track kindly granted by The Whitest Boy Alive.

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