The role of place attachment in attitudes towards re-landscaping river interventions

Laura Verbrugge

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Flood risk mitigation measures are often costly and have large social and biophysical impacts such as possible relocations of local residents, changes in land use and possibly drastic changes in landscape structure. Identifying and assessing residents’ place attachment and attitudes toward re-landscaping river interventions is therefore important to ensure societal expectations regarding flood mitigation are adequately addressed. This paper reports on a comprehensive study (n = 1,102) on place attachment and attitudes towards river interventions of residents living along a ten kilometer stretch of the river Waal, The Netherlands. The river Waal is the site of an ambitious new development involving the replacement of traditional groynes with longitudinal training dams which will drastically change the appearance of the Dutch river landscape. We first examine the relationship between the local residents’ socio-demographic characteristics and four dimensions of place attachment: place identity, place dependence, social bonding and a new dimension of narrative bonding. Second, we examine the influence of place attachment and flood safety perception on local residents’ evaluation of the proposed river management intervention.
The results show that local residents feel strongly attached to the area, especially in terms of place identity. Socio-demographic variables explain between 21 and 41% of variation in place attachment scales. Important predictors include place of residence, being born in the area and scenic beauty, followed by length of residence, frequency of river visits and recreational value. The importance of each place attachment dimension differed between the four residential areas highlighting the need for participatory processes tailored to different sub-regions. Overall the planned construction of the longitudinal training dams was positively evaluated, especially in terms of increasing flood safety. Social bonding, scenic beauty and recreational values had a positive influence on the evaluation of the proposed measure. Studying public perceptions in early stages of the planning and implementation phase provides valuable information to managers and policy makers as this allows for targeted communications and timely adaption to circumstances.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 2016
Externally publishedYes
Event24th International Association for People-environment Studies (IAPS) conference - Lund University and the Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences (Alnarp), Lund, Sweden
Duration: 27 Jun 20161 Jul 2016
Conference number: 24th


Conference24th International Association for People-environment Studies (IAPS) conference
Abbreviated titleIAPS

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