Building narratives and discourses on river restoration. The case of the Yzeron project (France)

Authors: Silvia Flaminio*, ENS de Lyon - UMR 5600
Topics: Environment
Keywords: river restoration, public participation, perception, discourses, environment, Yzeron,
Session Type: Paper
Day: 4/10/2018
Start / End Time: 8:00 AM / 9:40 AM
Room: Grand Chenier, Sheraton, 5th Floor
Presentation File: No File Uploaded

Scientific literature on river restoration has known a spectacular increase in the past decades (Bernhardt and Palmer 2007). Nevertheless, the field remains relatively new and experimental for many practitioners and managers. Although many environmental scientists have underlined the key role of the public in the success of the projects (Gobster et al. 2007), debates around river restoration are often quite confidential.
This contribution analyses the reception by the public, and by riverside residents, of an urban river restoration project. It focuses on the Yzeron river, a small canalised tributary of the Rhône, in the vicinity of Lyon, France. A public consultation was organised between 2007 and 2011, and the first phase of the works took place between 2014 and 2016. The study is based on (1) a survey with riverside residents (n=108) and some in-depth interviews (n=13), (2) newsletters, leaflets, advertisements produced by the river managers, (3) the official reports which are part of the regulatory framework, (4) a collection of regional newspaper articles (n=177). The results highlight the difficulties the river managers were confronted with while presenting the project to the public. They also underline the limits of a regulatory framework which only involves citizens in the last steps of decision-making. The discussion focuses on the contradictory narratives and discourses held by managers and riverside residents on rivers, restoration and nature. From a more practical point of view, it insists of the necessity of building common narratives at a local scale and early on in the project’s construction.

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