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How local water and waterbody meanings shape flood risk perception and risk management preferences

Quinn T., Bousquet F., Guerbois C., Heider L., Brown K.. 2019. Sustainability Science, 14 (3) : p. 565-578.

The sharp end of climate change is being, and will continue to be, experienced at the local and personal scale. How changing patterns of hazards interplay with local landscapes is an important focus of risk management, both in understanding how place-based risk is perceived and in identifying how local populations would like these risks to be managed. In this study we focus on the object of hazard and examine how different meanings associated with water and waterbodies relate to flood risk perception and preferences for flood management strategies. We present analysis of a mixed methods study with survey data (n?=?707) of residents in four coastal towns in France, South Africa and UK presented alongside an in-depth study of the two French towns (semi-structured interviews n?=?15 and document analysis). Our analysis unpacks the significance of relationships between the meaning of water in general, and the meaning of specific water bodies, to flood risk perceptions. Our findings indicate that general water meaning is more reliably related to flood risk perception than specific waterbody meaning, where waterbody meanings are significant for flood risk perception, positive identification with rivers relates to reduced flood risk perception. We also find that the meanings associated with water and waterbodies relate to specific preferences for different types of flood management, including insurance and local taxation. The implications for landscapes undergoing rapid change, for example as a result of changing climate and hydrological regimes, are discussed. In particular, we highlight how infrastructure interacts with sense of place in communities undergoing rapid social¿ecological change and how understanding this interplay can help in the design of more fully supported adaptation strategies.

Mots-clés : cours d'eau; ville; gestion du risque; changement climatique; lutte anti-inondation; terre inondée; inondation; royaume-uni; afrique du sud; france; languedoc-roussillon

Thématique : Ressources en eau et leur gestion; Météorologie et climatologie

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