Re-evaluating participatory catchment management: Integrating mapping, modelling, and participatory action to deliver more effective risk management

Edward Rollason

    Research output: ThesisDoctoral Thesis


    Recent policy changes, such as the EU Water Framework Directive, have transformed catchment management to consider connected socio-ecological systems at the catchment scale, and integrate concept of public participation. However, there is relatively little research exploring how effective these changes have been in altering existing practices of management. Adopting a transdisciplinary approach, this thesis investigates a range of perspectives to explore existing participatory practices in current catchment management, and understand how we can integrate alternative knowledges and perspectives. The research employs diverse social and physical science methods, including participant led interviews and participatory mapping, numerical flood modelling, and the creation of a participatory competency group.

    The research finds that, despite the participatory policy turn, established supracatchment scale drivers continue to dictate top-down practices of everyday catchment management, excluding local communities from decision-making power. In contrast, participation in managing extreme events is actively encouraged, with the development of community resilience a key objective for management agencies. However, the research findings suggest that a similar lack of meaningful participation
    in knowledge creation and decision-making restricts resilience building. Based on these findings, the research explores practical ways in which participation and resilience can be embedded in ICM, using the typically expert-led practice of numerical flood modelling to show how existing practices of knowledge creation can be enhanced. The thesis also demonstrates how new practices of knowledge creation, based on social learning, can be used to develop new, more effective ways of communicating flood risk and building local resilience.

    The thesis proposes a new framework for the management of connected socio-ecological catchment systems, embedding evolutionary resilience as a practical mechanism by which public participation and the management of everyday and extreme events could be unified to develop more effective and sustainable catchment management and more resilient communities.
    Original languageEnglish
    QualificationDoctor of Philosophy
    Awarding Institution
    • Durham University
    • Bracken, Louise, Supervisor, External person
    • Hardy, Rich, Supervisor, External person
    • Large, Andy, Supervisor, External person
    Award date10 Oct 2018
    Publication statusPublished - 2018


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