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Open AccessArticle

Societal Drivers of European Water Governance: A Comparison of Urban River Restoration Practices in France and Germany

1
Strategic Landscape Planning and Management, Center of Life and Food Sciences Weihenstephan, Technische Universität München, Emil-Ramann-Str. 6, 85354 Freising, Germany
2
Interdisciplinary Research Center for Cities, Territories, Environment and Society (UMR CNRS 7324 CITERES), Université François Rabelais, 33 allée Ferdinand de Lesseps, 37000 Tours, France
3
Applied Aquatic Ecology and UNESCO “River Culture-Fleuves et Patrimoine”, Université François Rabelais, 33 allée Ferdinand de Lesseps, 37000 Tours, France
*
Authors to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Academic Editor: Y. Jun Xu
Water 2017, 9(3), 206; https://doi.org/10.3390/w9030206
Received: 28 November 2016 / Accepted: 14 February 2017 / Published: 10 March 2017
The European water governance took a decisive turn with the formulation of the Water Framework Directive (WFD), which demands the restoration of all water bodies that did not achieve sufficient ecological status. Urban rivers are particularly impaired by human activities and their restorations are motivated by multiple ecological and societal drivers, such as requirements of laws and legislation, and citizen needs for a better quality of life. In this study we investigated the relative influence of socio-political and socio-cultural drivers on urban river restorations by comparing projects of different policy contexts and cultural norms to cross-fertilize knowledge. A database of 75 projects in French and German major cities was compiled to apply (a) a comparative statistical analysis of main project features, i.e., motivation, goals, measures, morphological status, and project date; and (b) a qualitative textual analysis on project descriptions and titles. The results showed that despite a powerful European directive, urban river restoration projects still keep national specificities. The WFD drives with more intensity German, rather than French, urban river restoration. This study showed the limits of macro-level governance and the influence of microlevel governance driven by societal aspects such as nature perception and relationships between humans and rivers. View Full-Text
Keywords: human-nature-relationships; restoration targets; riverine socio-ecosystems; urban ecology; Water Framework Directive human-nature-relationships; restoration targets; riverine socio-ecosystems; urban ecology; Water Framework Directive
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Zingraff-Hamed, A.; Greulich, S.; Wantzen, K.M.; Pauleit, S. Societal Drivers of European Water Governance: A Comparison of Urban River Restoration Practices in France and Germany. Water 2017, 9, 206.

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