Special Issue "Human–River Interactions in Cities"

A special issue of Sustainability (ISSN 2071-1050). This special issue belongs to the section "Sustainable Urban and Rural Development".

Deadline for manuscript submissions: 31 December 2020.

Special Issue Editors

Prof. Dr. G. Mathias Kondolf
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Guest Editor
Department of Landscape Architecture and Environmental Planning, UC Berkeley, Berkeley, USA
EURIAS fellow, Collegium—Lyon Institute of Advanced Studies, ENS; CNRS UMR 5600 Environnement Ville Société, University of Lyon, Lyon, France
Interests: fluvial geomorphology; environmental planning; river restoration; sustainable floodplain management; urban rivers; social and biophysical connectivity of urban rivers; sustainable management of sediment in rivers and reservoirs; reservoir sedimentation; sediment starvation
Special Issues and Collections in MDPI journals
Dr. Amir Gohar
Website
Guest Editor
Department of Landscape Architecture and Environmental Planning, UC Berkeley, Berkeley, USA
Interests: urban planning; landscape design; ecotourism; sustainable tourism planning; public access to urban rivers; sustainability of global south, water front design, civic engagement in public space
Prof. Yves-François Le Lay
Website
Guest Editor
Ecole normale supérieure de Lyon, Department of Social Sciences, UMR 5600 Environnement Ville Société, University of Lyon, Lyon, France
Interests: social geography; environmental controversies; public perception of riverscapes; river history; water governance

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

Most cities are located on rivers, and for very good historical reasons, which included navigation/commerce, fisheries, water supply, waste disposal, and quotidian uses, such as washing clothes. The identities and distinctive characteristics of many cities are closely tied to their rivers, and the many ways their residents interact with their urban waters. In recent decades, urban riverfront projects have become ubiquitous in the developed world, and increasingly promoted in the developing world. Both celebrated as revitalizing neglected urban centers and criticized for displacing the disenfranchised populations, these projects raise questions about what constitutes ‘restoration’ in the urban context, to what degree natural processes and ecological values can be restored in such contexts, and how sustainable ecological benefits will be in light of the urban context. In highly-dense cities, the social benefits of restoration likely overshadow the potential ecological benefits. Moreover, attempts to transplant waterfront restoration approaches from a successful application in one city to another with different characteristics commonly fail when the diversity of fluvial form and resulting culture is not adequate accounted for. Thus, there are fundamental questions about the sustainability of these projects, from the hydrologic, ecological, and social perspectives.

These themes were explored at the IS Rivers conference in Lyon, France, in June 2018, in a session on ‘City-River Interactions’, supported by the Collegium—Lyon Institute of Advanced Studies.  A number of papers in our special issue derive from presentations and discussions at the IS Rivers conference, but the special issue is by no means restricted to papers presented there, and in fact the issue already includes papers published or in review that are independent of the conference.  We invite your contributions to this Special Issue, edited with the support of the Collegium, exploring these rich human–river interactions in the urban environment.

Sincerely yours,

Prof. G. Mathias Kondolf
Dr. Amir Gohar
Prof. Yves-François Le Lay
Guest Editors

Manuscript Submission Information

Manuscripts should be submitted online at www.mdpi.com by registering and logging in to this website. Once you are registered, click here to go to the submission form. Manuscripts can be submitted until the deadline. All papers will be peer-reviewed. Accepted papers will be published continuously in the journal (as soon as accepted) and will be listed together on the special issue website. Research articles, review articles as well as short communications are invited. For planned papers, a title and short abstract (about 100 words) can be sent to the Editorial Office for announcement on this website.

Submitted manuscripts should not have been published previously, nor be under consideration for publication elsewhere (except conference proceedings papers). All manuscripts are thoroughly refereed through a single-blind peer-review process. A guide for authors and other relevant information for submission of manuscripts is available on the Instructions for Authors page. Sustainability is an international peer-reviewed open access semimonthly journal published by MDPI.

Please visit the Instructions for Authors page before submitting a manuscript. The Article Processing Charge (APC) for publication in this open access journal is 1800 CHF (Swiss Francs). Submitted papers should be well formatted and use good English. Authors may use MDPI's English editing service prior to publication or during author revisions.

Keywords

  • urban rivers
  • human-river interactions
  • urban waterfronts
  • revitalization

Published Papers (10 papers)

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Research

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Open AccessArticle
The Fit of Urban Waterfront Interventions: Matters of Size, Money and Function
Sustainability 2020, 12(10), 4079; https://doi.org/10.3390/su12104079 - 15 May 2020
Abstract
Urban riverfront interventions are ubiquitous throughout the developed world, and increasingly also in the Global South. Many have failed spectacularly. We conducted a systematic review of failed riverfront interventions to draw lessons that could improve future projects. Learning from past mistakes may be [...] Read more.
Urban riverfront interventions are ubiquitous throughout the developed world, and increasingly also in the Global South. Many have failed spectacularly. We conducted a systematic review of failed riverfront interventions to draw lessons that could improve future projects. Learning from past mistakes may be more important than observing successes, because successful elements in one city may not be repeatable elsewhere, as the context and opportunity could be specific to that one city. Recognizing what did not work elsewhere may provide clues needed to improve future projects. Our results show that poorly designed riverfront interventions typically fail on several levels: a bad program, with the wrong budget and timing, no concern for local needs or context, results in an unattractive and costly intervention, with reduced to no social or environmental benefit. To create more successful interventions in the future, we should acknowledge the local context, the morphology of the river valley, the time and budget a set of solutions entail, and select uses and functions that work for a diverse crowd and provide multiple benefits, including good flood management performance and the restoration of the rivers’ natural connectivity. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Human–River Interactions in Cities)
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Open AccessArticle
Spatial–Temporal Evolution and Correlation Analysis of Ecosystem Service Value and Landscape Ecological Risk in Wuhu City
Sustainability 2020, 12(7), 2803; https://doi.org/10.3390/su12072803 - 02 Apr 2020
Abstract
The comprehensive application of ecosystem service value (ESV) and ecological risk index (ERI) assessment can provide better decision support for regional ecological environment protection. Based on the remote sensing image data of Wuhu city of 1995, 2005 and 2016, the paper analyzed the [...] Read more.
The comprehensive application of ecosystem service value (ESV) and ecological risk index (ERI) assessment can provide better decision support for regional ecological environment protection. Based on the remote sensing image data of Wuhu city of 1995, 2005 and 2016, the paper analyzed the spatial-temporal evolution of ESV and ERI in Wuhu city and its associated characteristics using an ESV, ERI assessments and a bivariate spatial autocorrelation method. The results showed that (1) the total ESV of Wuhu city continued to decline from 1995 to 2016, with a decrease of US$ 363.664 million. The total ESV per unit area of the sampling plot decreased, and the high-value was mainly distributed in areas within 5–10 km along the Yangtze River floodplain. (2) Wuhu city was mainly dominated by a relatively low ERI and medium ERI from 1995 to 2016. The high-value areas were mainly distributed in the mainstream of the Yangtze River, and the overall ERI improved. (3) There was a positive spatial correlation between the total ESV per unit area and ERI in Wuhu city, and these areas were mainly distributed in the Yangtze River mainstream region. According to this research, it is necessary to pay attention to the protection of wetland and forest landscapes, strengthen wetland ecological protection based on the Yangtze River and protect and restore natural mountain forests, all of which play important roles in improving the ecosystem service function of Wuhu city and protecting the ecological environment of the Yangtze River. We should act on that knowledge, and produce effective environmental regulations and habitat restoration efforts that improve the ESV and reduce the ERI. The findings of the study can serve as a reference for the management and protection of ecological environments in river-crossing cities. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Human–River Interactions in Cities)
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Open AccessArticle
The Influence of Multi-Dimensional Cognition on the Formation of the Sense of Place in an Urban Riverfront Space
Sustainability 2020, 12(1), 178; https://doi.org/10.3390/su12010178 - 24 Dec 2019
Abstract
Urban riverfront spaces and associated riverine landscapes play important roles in promoting human-river interactions and shaping the regional characteristics of a city. This paper explored the urban riverfront space from the material level of the riverine landscape to a multi-dimensional cognitive level and [...] Read more.
Urban riverfront spaces and associated riverine landscapes play important roles in promoting human-river interactions and shaping the regional characteristics of a city. This paper explored the urban riverfront space from the material level of the riverine landscape to a multi-dimensional cognitive level and constructed a theoretical exploration model of the influence of three cognitive dimensions (sensual cognition, intellectual cognition, and rational cognition) on the ‘sense of place’ (SOP) in urban riverfronts. In addition, the measurement scales for different cognitive dimensions were explored and designed. The structural equation model (SEM) was used to analyse 329 valid survey questionnaires in June 2019 in Dujiangyan Yihu Park, China. The analysis of the case study results showed that the overall theoretical model had a good model fit. The sensual cognition, intellectual cognition, and rational cognition all had a significant influence on the SOP in the riverfront park, of which the intellectual cognition had the most significant influence. Strengthening the creation of a riverine landscape for intellectual cognition is expected to enhance the SOP in riverfront spaces more effectively and achieve more enriched interactions between people and rivers. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Human–River Interactions in Cities)
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Open AccessArticle
Urban Regeneration Projects Bound to Water, along and towards the Tagus Estuary (Portugal)
Sustainability 2019, 11(23), 6578; https://doi.org/10.3390/su11236578 - 21 Nov 2019
Abstract
Water is becoming a support for landscape and urban projects in a densely urbanised area settled along the Tagus Estuary, dubbed the City of the Tagus Estuary (CTE). Analysing two recent projects along and towards the Tagus Estuary hydrographic network, this article highlights [...] Read more.
Water is becoming a support for landscape and urban projects in a densely urbanised area settled along the Tagus Estuary, dubbed the City of the Tagus Estuary (CTE). Analysing two recent projects along and towards the Tagus Estuary hydrographic network, this article highlights how the most evident limit (the water) can function as the strongest binder, natural link, and shared public space of the CTE. Located, respectively, on the north and south banks of the estuary, the analysed projects become a way to think about urban strategies and promotions that use water as a way to build (re-build or reformulate) the image of the Lisbon Metropolitan Area. Today, open spaces bound to waterlines support an appealing and winning urban regeneration formula. Our goal is to understand what kind of role water is called to play with regard to the CTE. We ask: is the water called to play merely the role of building a new image of the city as a ground for investors? Is water the way to build a green and habitable CTE? This article concludes that the analysed projects contribute (as expected) to the promotion of the surrounding areas and propose appropriate solutions while occasionally overcoming the current local urban planning. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Human–River Interactions in Cities)
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Open AccessArticle
Furthering Internal Border Area Studies: An Analysis of Dysfunctions and Cooperation Mechanisms in the Water and River Management of Catalonia, Aragon and the Valencian Community (Spain)
Sustainability 2019, 11(16), 4499; https://doi.org/10.3390/su11164499 - 20 Aug 2019
Cited by 1
Abstract
Cooperation between countries or regions that share a political border is one of the primary concerns of border studies. However, while cooperation between states is a well-established field based on international agreements, the cooperation between internal-state regions is not as well understood and [...] Read more.
Cooperation between countries or regions that share a political border is one of the primary concerns of border studies. However, while cooperation between states is a well-established field based on international agreements, the cooperation between internal-state regions is not as well understood and requires more exhaustive study. Cooperation agreements between regions are frequently based on the shared and collaborative management of environmental resources such as river basins. This paper aimed to identify mechanisms of river basin cooperation in the internal border area between Catalonia, Aragon and the Valencian Community (Spain), with the objective of analyzing dysfunctions in their water management and identifying the territorial needs for the efficient management of these resources. Focus group sessions were conducted with 84 public administration stakeholders and a total of 53 border municipalities were involved in the project. In our study area, we identified a considerable number of dysfunctions that affected different levels of water management (e.g., supply, navigation and reservoirs) and which impeded effective cooperation between different administrations (above all, between town councils and the public water agencies). However, we also identified several interesting initiatives to promote water management in both the medium and long term, including river contracts, river commonwealths and river tourism projects managed by border municipalities. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Human–River Interactions in Cities)
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Open AccessArticle
Is the High-Density Housing Layout Affected by River Direction? Lessons from Seoul, South Korea
Sustainability 2019, 11(11), 3013; https://doi.org/10.3390/su11113013 - 28 May 2019
Abstract
This study analyzes apartment building configurations in waterfront residential areas relative to water flow direction and assesses the waterfront impact on apartment construction planning. It surveyed 197 apartment buildings around Yangjaecheon, Gulpocheon, and Anyangcheon, three branches of the Han River, a major South [...] Read more.
This study analyzes apartment building configurations in waterfront residential areas relative to water flow direction and assesses the waterfront impact on apartment construction planning. It surveyed 197 apartment buildings around Yangjaecheon, Gulpocheon, and Anyangcheon, three branches of the Han River, a major South Korean river, to ascertain the correlation between stream flows and apartment building configurations. The apartments were classified into four spatial-configuration categories relative to the adjacent stream’s flow axis—perpendicular, parallel, diagonal, and other—and three orientation categories—east- and/or west-facing, south-facing, and other. South-facing apartments were predominant around west- and north-flowing streams. The proportion of east- and/or west-facing apartments built and the percentage of south-facing apartments were relatively low, indicating that apartment building layouts are more diverse around north-flowing streams than around west-flowing streams. A t-test analysis of east- and south-facing apartments’ proportions relative to stream flow direction was statistically significant, and there were relatively higher percentages of east- and west-facing apartments near north-flowing streams than west-flowing ones. This suggests that the relationship with rivers is still important in urban housing in South Korea, and the importance of landscapes over the river is of increasing significance for planning urban settlements. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Human–River Interactions in Cities)
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Open AccessArticle
Urban River Transformation and the Landscape Garden City Movement in China
Sustainability 2018, 10(11), 4103; https://doi.org/10.3390/su10114103 - 08 Nov 2018
Cited by 5
Abstract
The practice of enhancing existing rivers and creating entirely new waterscapes has exploded in China over the past two decades. In our study of 104 randomly selected cities across China, we identified 14 types of river projects based on grey literature reports and [...] Read more.
The practice of enhancing existing rivers and creating entirely new waterscapes has exploded in China over the past two decades. In our study of 104 randomly selected cities across China, we identified 14 types of river projects based on grey literature reports and their appearance on sequential aerial imagery, falling into three categories: ‘engineering’, ‘waterfront spaces’ and ‘ecological’ projects. ‘Waterfront spaces’ is the most common (60.5%), followed by ‘engineering’ (28.7%) and ‘ecological’ (10.8%). Using multiple stepwise regression, we found that the types of projects undertaken were strongly influenced by factors such as climate, social-economic setting, and ‘Landscape Garden City’ designation. Designation as a ‘Landscape Garden City’ was correlated with ‘waterfront spaces’, but not ‘engineering’ and ‘ecological’ projects. We found that cities in drier climates (as measured by ‘precipitation minus evaporation’) constructed more projects and they included many projects that impounded seasonal rivers to create year-round water bodies. Based on our results, we conclude that Chinese cities are still in the process of ‘decorating’ rivers, and that the ‘Landscape Garden City’ designation promoted such ‘decorating’ projects, especially ‘linear greening’ projects and ‘public spaces along rivers’. The results also demonstrate that the new river projects in China are often at odds with the local climate. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Human–River Interactions in Cities)
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Open AccessArticle
Influence of Perceptual Range on Human Perceived Restoration
Sustainability 2018, 10(9), 3139; https://doi.org/10.3390/su10093139 - 03 Sep 2018
Cited by 1
Abstract
In daily living environments, an individual’s different state of mind influences their spatial perception. The current study, based on Attention Restoration Theory, aimed to explore differences in the health utility of nature according to individual differences in spatial perception. It focused on Cheonggyecheon [...] Read more.
In daily living environments, an individual’s different state of mind influences their spatial perception. The current study, based on Attention Restoration Theory, aimed to explore differences in the health utility of nature according to individual differences in spatial perception. It focused on Cheonggyecheon stream in Seoul, South Korea. Cognitive mapping and the Perceived Restorativeness Scale (PRS) were used to assess two groups’ different perceived spatial ranges and the restorative effect of the environment. After gathering data, two groups were defined: one describing only the internal area of the research site (composed of green materials), and the other illustrating the external area of the site, including buildings and roads. The former had higher overall PRS, Being Away, Fascination, and Compatibility scores. The latter had higher scores only on the Coherence subscale. These results illustrate that the frequency of nature visits and time spent traveling influence the two groups’ attentional restoration, which has great implications for highly stressful urban environments. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Human–River Interactions in Cities)
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Open AccessArticle
Model-Based Evaluation of Urban River Restoration: Conflicts between Sensitive Fish Species and Recreational Users
Sustainability 2018, 10(6), 1747; https://doi.org/10.3390/su10061747 - 26 May 2018
Cited by 2
Abstract
Urban rivers are socioecological systems, and restored habitats may be attractive to both sensitive species and recreationists. Understanding the potential conflicts between ecological and recreational values is a critical issue for the development of a sustainable river-management plan. Habitat models are very promising [...] Read more.
Urban rivers are socioecological systems, and restored habitats may be attractive to both sensitive species and recreationists. Understanding the potential conflicts between ecological and recreational values is a critical issue for the development of a sustainable river-management plan. Habitat models are very promising tools for the ecological evaluation of river restoration projects that are already concluded, ongoing, or even to be planned. With our paper, we make a first attempt at integrating recreational user pressure into habitat modeling. The objective of this study was to analyze whether human impact is likely to hinder the re-establishment of a target species despite the successful restoration of physical habitat structures in the case of the restoration of the Isar River in Munich (Germany) and the target fish species Chondostroma nasus L. Our analysis combined high-resolution 2D hydrodynamic modeling with mapping of recreational pressure and used an expert-based procedure for modeling habitat suitability. The results are twofold: (1) the restored river contains suitable physical habitats for population conservation but has low suitability for recruitment; (2) densely used areas match highly suitable habitats for C. nasus. In the future, the integrated modeling procedure presented here may allow ecological refuge for sensitive target species to be included in the design of restoration and may help in the development of visitor-management plans to safeguard biodiversity and recreational ecosystem services. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Human–River Interactions in Cities)
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Review

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Open AccessFeature PaperReview
Urban Stream and Wetland Restoration in the Global South—A DPSIR Analysis
Sustainability 2019, 11(18), 4975; https://doi.org/10.3390/su11184975 - 11 Sep 2019
Cited by 7
Abstract
In many countries of the Global South, aquatic ecosystems such as streams, rivers, lakes, and wetlands are severely impacted by several simultaneous environmental stressors, associated with accelerated urban development, and extreme climate. However, this problem receives little attention. Applying a DPSIR approach (Drivers, [...] Read more.
In many countries of the Global South, aquatic ecosystems such as streams, rivers, lakes, and wetlands are severely impacted by several simultaneous environmental stressors, associated with accelerated urban development, and extreme climate. However, this problem receives little attention. Applying a DPSIR approach (Drivers, Pressures, State, Impacts, Responses), we analyzed the environmental impacts and their effects on urban hydrosystems (including stagnant waters), and suggest possible solutions from a series of case studies worldwide. We find that rivers in the Global South, with their distinctive geographical and socio-political setting, display significant differences from the Urban Stream Syndrome described so far in temperate zones. We introduce the term of ‘Southern Urban Hydrosystem Syndrome’ for the biophysical problems as well as the social interactions, including the perception of water bodies by the urbanites, the interactions of actors (e.g., top-down, bottom-up), and the motivations that drive urban hydrosystem restoration projects of the Global South. Supported by a synthesis of case studies (with a focus on Brazilian restoration projects), this paper summarizes the state of the art, highlights the currently existing lacunae for research, and delivers examples of practical solutions that may inform UNESCO’s North–South–South dialogue to solve these urgent problems. Two elements appear to be specifically important for the success of restoration projects in the Global South, namely the broad acceptance and commitment of local populations beyond merely ‘ecological’ justifications, e.g., healthy living environments and ecosystems with cultural linkages (‘River Culture’). To make it possible implementable/practical solutions must be extended to (often poor) people having settled along river banks and wetlands. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Human–River Interactions in Cities)
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