An Interdisciplinary Approach to Assessing, Planning and Managing Urban Rivers in the context of Greater London
Urban rivers present complex management challenges due to the combined natural and anthropocentric factors affecting developed catchments. Planning urban river rehabilitation strategies and measures in parallel with green infrastructure initiatives requires the combined expertise of multi-disciplinary partnerships, encompassing river science and landscape engineering plus community engagement, to deliver integrated and sustainable outcomes. This thesis takes an interdisciplinary approach to investigate the assessment and management of urban rivers, focusing specifically upon the planning of integrated restoration projects for River Thames tributaries within Greater London. Comparisons of restored and unrestored sites on London tributary rivers at the reachand catchment-scale explore the versatility of the Urban River Survey method for assessing and communicating contrasts in the bio-physical condition and engineering:habitat associations of heavily modified rivers. A trial of the Ecosystem Services Assessment method for urban river restorations indicates the strengths and limitations of this approach and areas of research need. Urban river governance investigations and a review of changes in restoration practices over time confirm a decreasing emphasis on channel control and progressively lighter engineering, plus a greater social focus with urban river management becoming increasingly driven by awareness of the symbiosis between rivers and local communities. In some London boroughs partner organisations are developing new links through sustainable development objectives, but connections are geographically inconsistent and typically dependent upon key advocates. Findings indicate that integrated planning can facilitate interdisciplinary processes through the identification of cross-cutting themes (e.g. climate change) and open knowledge exchange when delivered with appropriate levels of detail. While some disciplinary boundaries are necessary (to define project scope and for task management), socio-ecological benefits may be achieved when these are flexible, permeable and managed responsively in relation to simple overarching goals; and by allowing time for different kinds of knowledge to merge and stimulate new creative and integrated interpretations.
AuthorsShuker, Jane Lucy Flora
- Theses