Category Archives: The Geographical Journal

Do investigations of urban channel change prompt proactive channel management and greater focus on design in research and learning and teaching?

By Ken Gregory, University of Southampton UK and Anne Chin, University of Colorado, Denver

Fig 1

Terrain adjacent to Fountain Hills in the middle distance (c) Ken Gregory

Rivers and streams are important to the 54% of the world’s population living in urban areas. Although environmental pollution, and its reduction, were a first concern for streams in urban areas, river channel quality has recently attracted more attention. For example, restoration schemes have been undertaken for specific areas, and ‘daylighting’ is now uncovering portions of buried rivers (The Guardian, 2017). Research has engaged several disciplines, with the urban stream syndrome evident in the work of ecologists, and geomorphologists showing effects of changed processes in urban rivers, with research results useful for management (e.g. Chin and Gregory, 2009). Hitherto emphasis has been on parts of urban areas or on specific stream problems, but it is now feasible to use a more holistic approach to evaluate the effects of changes and management on the stream system in a single area.

In our recent paper, ‘Evaluation of the imprint of urban channel adjustment and management’, we report analysis of the area of Fountain Hills, Arizona, a town area of 52.4 km2. In this area, which has been urbanised since 1970, at least 43 individual wash channels from the McDowell Mountains flowed naturally eastward to the Verde River, and three drained westward. Population increased rapidly from 2,772 in 1980 to 22,489 in 2010, with the eventual prospect of >36,540 in 2050. Although stream channels were identified as the primary mechanism to remove storm waters, roads in Fountain Hills were built to function as storm drainage as an alternative to investing in costly, but infrequently needed, storm sewers. We have studied specific areas within Fountain Hills identifying channel effects of urbanisation (Chin and Gregory, 2001), the hazards (Gregory and Chin, 2002), and management implications (Chin and Gregory 2005). Analysis of the entire urban wash channel system enables us to evaluate how successful management of the washes has been.

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Although evaluation is often employed as a component of environmental assessment, usually associated with specific projects in post-project appraisal, few geomorphic evaluations of adjusting channel systems have been conducted together with consideration of management success. We suggest that geomorphological success can be evaluated by considering three inter-related aspects of a managed urban drainage system: the functionality (does it work?), the appearance (does it look appropriate?), together with its resilience (is it sustainable?). For Fountain Hills, functionality is satisfactory in the 60% of wash length that has achieved naturalization; appearance is appropriate for that same wash length, although golf course developments produce wash lines at variance with the natural character. Short term resilience is accommodated by the wash management programme and by ongoing adaptive management. Land ownership, especially of private land with areas developed for golf courses, accounts for some of the variations encountered because such areas are not subject to the controls upon public land.

Overall, therefore, management of the wash system in Fountain Hills has been successful, enabled by adaptive management including a wash management programme and new policies implemented for the most recently developed areas. However, the policy intention to maintain what is ‘natural’ has not been realised; it could have more realistically been stated as the need to undertake naturalization. This relates to the debate in the literature of several disciplines concerning what is ‘natural’ and the perception of ‘naturalness’, and in the EU Water Framework Directive, this is the ‘reference condition’ of high ecological status against which river condition is judged.

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This evaluation approach, which could be applied to other areas, suggests that a holistic basin plan could be developed to anticipate geomorphological change throughout the basins outlining the most appropriate measures to adopt, thus reducing the need for adaptive management as urbanisation progresses. Whereas adaptive management is reactive to changes which have already occurred, and anticipatory management has been suggested for instream habitat (Beagle et al. 2016), should proactive catchment management be envisaged for adapting to future change? Such a proactive approach is analogous to catchment-scale longer-term perspectives in restoration (Gregory and Downs 2008), which enable geomorphic consequences to be included and managed.

Where washes have been modified, could geomorphologically-based alternatives be devised, and should design practices become more evident in both applied research and in contemporary learning and teaching? (Gregory  2017)

About the authors: Ken Gregory is Visiting Professor University of Southampton and Emeritus Professor University of London and was President of the BSG (2009-2014), Anne Chin is Professor Department of Geography and Environmental Sciences, University of Colorado, Denver and is currently Editor of Anthropocene.

books_iconBeagle , J. R., Kondolf, G. M., Adams, R. M. and Marcus, L. (2016). Anticipatory management for instream habitat: Application to Carneros Creek, California. River Research & Applications 32, 280-294.

books_iconChin, A. and Gregory, K. J. (2001). Urbanization and adjustment of ephemeral stream channels. Annals Association of American Geographers 91, 595–608.

books_icon Chin, A. and Gregory, K. J. (2005). Managing urban river channel adjustments Geomorphology 69, 28-45.

books_icon Chin, A. and Gregory, K. J. (2009). From research to application: Management implications from studies of urban river channel adjustment. Geography Compass 3, 297–328.

books_icon Gregory, K. J. (2017). Putting physical environments in their place: The next chapter? The Canadian Geographer 61, 11–18.

books_icon Gregory, K. J. and Chin, A. (2002). Urban stream channel hazards. Area 34, 312–321.

books_icon Gregory, K. J. and Chin, A. (2017). Evaluation of the imprint of urban channel adjustment and management. The Geographical Journal doi:10.1111/geoj.12231

books_icon Gregory, K. J. and Downs, P. W. (2008). The sustainability of restored rivers: Catchment scale perspectives on long term response In Darby, S. and Sear, D. eds. River Restoration: Managing the uncertainty in restoring physical habitat. Wiley Chichester 253 – 286.

60-world2 The Guardian (2017). A river runs through it: the global movement to ‘daylight’ urban waterways. The Guardian 8 September 2017.

Exploring London’s New Brewing Geography

By Sam Page and Adam Dennett, University College London

Brewing is all the rage again. BrewDog, one of the largest new British brewers and self-styled ‘Punks’ of the industry, are starting to try and sink their teeth into the US market, and have even published a book on how to do business. Beer is now cool, interesting, and something that many are starting to cotton on to. Indeed, it’s difficult to walk into a pub in the UK these days without being confronted by at least one ‘craft’ drink, speculatively in the form of craft pale ale or a craft larger. It would seem that, after a long decline – where the number of brewers plunged to just 87 in the mid-1970s, down from 2000 in the mid-1920s – British beer manufacturing is thriving. Indeed, the Society of Independent Brewers have reported that brewing from their members almost doubled from 2009 to 2014. And while not exclusive to London, there has been a significant rise in the capital: from a handful of breweries within the M24 prior 2009, to 84 active breweries in 2016.

In many ways – physically and metaphysically – space and place have always been important in brewing. But, while terroir (perhaps most simply thought of as the impact of geography on the character of food and drink) has become less important as ingredients now come from all over the world (a lot the hops from of those very high-note bitter IPA’s are ‘New World Hops’, from the US or New Zealand), provenance and identity remain crucial to brewing – London being no exception. To take one example, the importance of location is evident for The Brixton Brewery, naming their beer after local roads: Electric IPA (Electric Avenue), Coldharbour Lager (Coldharbour Lane) and Atlantic APA (Atlantic Road). Other location-based themes are available in abundance: Five Points (brewery), Gipsy Hill (brewery), London Pride (beer), and so on. And so, in our paper for The Geographical Journal, we were keen to explore the role that geography plays in the emerging London brewing scene.

Carrying out some initial spatial analysis, we discovered that London brewers are not randomly distributed over the city in an ad hoc manner. Instead, there is evidence of clustering, particularly in the inner boroughs of Southwark, Tower Hamlets, Islington, Hackney and Lambeth. To try and find out why this would be so, we went down to Southwark (as a particularly strong cluster) to carry out some ‘field work’ and not at all to drink beer.

In the north of Southwark, just near the River Thames, is what has become known as the “Bermondsey Beer Mile” (rather erroneously, as it’s almost exactly two miles long between London Bridge Station, beginning with Southwark Brewing Company and ending with Fourpure near South Bermondsey Station). Most of the breweries along the beer mile run ‘tap rooms’ at the weekend. This is a phenomenon where they open their doors, clear away some of the brewing equipment, set up trestle tables and benches and invite the public in to sample and buy beers directly from them. This has helped to turn the Bermondsey Beer Mile into something of a honey-pot for tourists, beer aficionados and other wastrels (including academic geographers) for the last few years.

During the course of our brewing fieldtrip ‘research’ we found several factors that helped Southwark, and in particular Bermondsey, become a new hub for brewing in the city. First were the presence of many brick railway arches supporting the railways running out of London Bridge Station. All of the Bermondsey breweries were under them. Indeed, within London almost 30 breweries are situated under railway arches. Railways have a historic association with brewing in the UK (through transporting products), but this is the first time in history we could locate that they helped form the space within which the brewing process took place. These arches are imposing Victorian brick structures more commonly the home of minicab firms and car garages. Traditionally damp, dingy and noisy, many been refurbished in the last few years and have started to provide spaces where now coffee is roasted, bread is baked, beef is salted and beer is brewed (if you know where to look). The refurbishment and opening up the use of these arches has been a conscious plan from the owner, Network Rail, to foster new businesses, but the crucial factor is that (for now) they are relatively cheap to rent and this has allowed relatively low-rent generating industries to penetrate the centre of London where access to some markets is greatly improved.

But the availability of suitable physical space has not spawned similar clusters everywhere in the city. More must have been going on to encourage these breweries to set up near each other. Talking informally with some of the brewers, we discovered that they were actually something of a community and were operating a sort of ‘economies of cooperation’ were they were benefiting through being beer comrades rather than business rivals. An indicative anecdotal story is that Kernel (the first of the new breweries in the area), not only helped to teach the brewers at Anspach & Hobday, how to brew, but they gave the Partisan brewery their original brewing equipment in order that they could get started. Anspach & Hobday also shared their equipment, until recently with the Bullfinch brewery. Through sharing knowledge, equipment, and customers, the breweries in Bermondsey were able to thrive.

So we could see how and why breweries were beginning to cluster in space in Bermondsey, but this new wave of brewing only began after 2011. Why the sudden growth at this time? Laying the important groundwork was the unlikely figure of Gordon Brown, who when Chancellor of the Exchequer in 2002, introduced a progressive beer tax meaning that small volume breweries benefited from a significant tax break such that they could compete with the economies of scale which benefited the big players in the industry. However, this had no immediate effect. It is only after the 2008 global financial crash that we start to witness the growth in the number of breweries, so that by the start of 2011, there were 24 breweries (including Kernel), reaching a high point (thus far) in 2015 with 87 active breweries. Anecdotally, there has been suggestion that the financial crash led a number of people to re-evaluate their career choices (either voluntarily or involuntarily) and, for some, a career in brewing beckoned.

About the authors: Sam Page is doctoral student at the Department of Geography, University of College London. Adam Dennett is Lecturer in Urban Analytics at the Centre for Advanced Spatial Analysis, University College London.

60-world2 Dennett, A. and Page, S. (2017), The geography of London’s recent beer brewing revolution. The Geographical Journal. doi:10.1111/geoj.12228

books_icon Scott K 2017 Scotland’s craft beer punks are bringing their brews to America CNN Money http://money.cnn.com/2017/05/03/smallbusiness/brewdog-craft-beer-america-ohio/index.html 

Jewish heritage tourism in Bucharest between neglect and rediscovery

By Andrea Corsale, University of Cagliari, Italy

The Great Synagogue of Bucharest surrounded by communist apartment blocks, empty areas and new high-rise buildings. Source: Author’s own, 2016.

The Great Synagogue of Bucharest surrounded by communist apartment blocks, empty areas and new high-rise buildings. Source: Author’s own, 2016.

Multicultural and cosmopolitan places, where different national groups have made their mark on the landscape and contributed to territorial identity, offer significant opportunities for niche cultural tourism. Aspects of a complex heritage can be created, recognised, highlighted, reinterpreted and ultimately sold, diversifying the image of a tourist offering even after previous phases of neglect or destruction.

In places where minority cultural heritage has (re)surfaced in recent times, majority groups may react in terms of nationalistic confrontation or cultural dissonance (Tunbridge and Ashworth 1996). However, in many cases there is a clearly visible trend toward greater appreciation of historical minority group heritage. Besides locally specific political, social and cultural reasons, a pragmatic, growing interest in the development of niche tourism products is often one of the driving forces of this ongoing change (Krakover 2016).

One of the most remarkable and controversial examples is the growing interest in Jewish history and culture in central and eastern Europe, even in countries where Jewish communities have disappeared, or have been reduced to tiny and barely visible minorities, Jewish history and culture is increasingly recognised as a significant part of local and national history and identity (Gruber 2002). This heritage can be metaphorically viewed, and used to re-think and re-define collective histories, representations and narratives which either consciously or unconsciously support dominant or minority group images. This growing interest has produced an expanding niche within cultural tourism (Schwarzbaum 2015). However, Jewish heritage tourism in Europe presents unique features, as the sites generally represent the legacy of a minority which either disappeared (in some cases centuries ago), or is now represented by small groups of people with high median age and advanced degrees of assimilation. This implies that Jewish communities are not always able to keep a central role in decision-making related to the management and promotion of their heritage.

Both positive and negative aspects can be identified in past, ongoing and planned practices of revitalisation and commodification of Jewish heritage (Silverman 2001). Rampant commercialisation of Jewish-related sites raised significant negative reactions in parts of the Jewish community; at the same time, rehabilitation and revitalisation of Jewish heritage in many European cities has turned decaying and forgotten neighbourhoods into vibrant and cosmopolitan urban spaces (Sandri 2013).

My recent paper (Corsale 2017), published in The Geographical Journal, discusses the case of Jewish heritage in Bucharest. In this historically cosmopolitan city, the large and vibrant Jewish community has been dramatically reduced by emigration, but has left a considerable cultural legacy and still asks for involvement and participation in the management and promotion of their tangible and intangible heritage.

Jewish heritage in Bucharest suffered significant destruction over World War II and especially during the last years of Ceauşescu’s regime, when a large part of the old Jewish district was demolished and replaced with wide avenues, standardised apartment blocks and empty spaces (see the image at the beginning of the blog post). In spite of these losses, Jewish heritage remains significant, and includes lavish Moorish Revival synagogues, the last Yiddish theatre in Europe, Ashkenazic and Sephardic cemeteries and valuable buildings once designed or decorated by Jewish architects and artists. Thus, tangible heritage shows elements of both cultural and architectural flourishing, as well as neglect and destruction (see the Jewish Virtual Library). The intangible Jewish heritage of Bucharest, on the other hand, includes a rich tradition of literature, music, traditions, folklore and food which has been dramatically undermined by mass emigration.

The strategies, practices and discourses of different stakeholders linked to Jewish heritage protection, production and management need to be assessed and understood. The largely unexpressed potential of this niche within the development of tourism in Bucharest, along with early signs of economic and political exploitation by non-Jewish stakeholders, makes this case study relevant for the broader study of sustainable cultural tourism.

I have described and analysed the case of Jewish heritage in Bucharest to illustrate how the Jewish community perceives the critical elements and economic potential of its cultural heritage, and envisions its development (see The Romanian Jewish Community), and compared these perceptions and practices with those of non-Jewish stakeholders interested in this niche tourism development. Controversial and contradictory signs, ranging from ongoing heritage destruction to restoration of key buildings, reveal the underestimation of and interest in this cultural tourism niche (Romania tourism). Significant growth of this tourism niche and its structural integration into the city’s image might perhaps risk powerful stakeholders taking control and excluding both the tiny Jewish community and the small-scale specialist tourist operators. Through this case study, my paper ultimately aims to contribute to the discussion about the complexity of niche heritage tourism practices in multi-ethnic contexts.

About the author: Andrea Corsale is Assistant Professor of Geography at the Department of History, Cultural Heritage and Territory, University of Cagliari, Italy. He has a Ph.D. in African and Asian Studies. His research interests include international migrations, ethnic minorities, rural and cultural tourism, participation and local development, particularly in Eastern Europe and the Mediterranean Region.

books_icon Corsale, A. (2017), Jewish heritage tourism in Bucharest: reality and visions. Geogr J. doi:10.1111/geoj.12211

books_icon Gruber R E (2002) Virtually Jewish: Reinventing Jewish culture in Europe.  University of California Press

60-world2 Jewish Virtual Library http://www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/bucharest 

books_icon Krakover S (2016) A heritage site development model: Jewish heritage product formation in south-central Europe Journal of Heritage Tourism 12 (1) 81-101

60-world2 The Romanian Jewish Community http://www.romanianjewish.org/en/# 

60-world2 Romania tourism (n.d) Jewish heritage in Romania http://romaniatourism.com/jewish-heritage.html 

books_icon Sandri O (2013) City heritage tourism without heirs: a comparitative story of Jewish-themed tourism of Krakow and Vilnius  Cybergeo  DOI : 10.4000/cybergeo.25934

books_icon Schwarzbaum L (2015) Tracing Jewish Heritage Along the Danube The New York Times, 13 March 2015 

books_icon Silverman J (2015) Polish tourism benefits from Holocaust memories BBC news, 9 January 2001.

books_icon Tunbridge J E and Ashworth A (1996) Dissonant heritage: the management of past as a resource in conflict Wiley

Alternative spaces of urban sustainability: the case of Brescia, Italy

By Marco Tononi and Antonella Pietta, University of Brescia, and Sara Bonati, Universidade da Madeira

Untitled

Industrial buildings in Brescia – Francesco Bonati

Brescia is a medium-sized city in northern Italy. It is located in the country’s densely-populated industrial area, the Po valley. In the past, the economy of Brescia was based on the metallurgic and chemical industries. However, in recent decades Brescia has experienced, as in many European cities, a process of industrial change. This is evidenced in the number of disused industrial sites and quarries in the urban area. Some of these sites have been regenerated, while others have become objects of contention between institutions, private industry and communities due to ecological conflicts or divergent economic interests.

A wide area of Brescia has been affected by polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) contamination, PCDD-PCDF, arsenic and mercury, arising mainly a chemical plant which has produced chlorine derivatives since 1900, including PCB production from 1930 to 1984. The city also faces other environmental problems due to its highly-industrialized economic base. These include groundwater contamination and exploitation by open-air quarries and landfill waste sites. As a result of such pollution, Brescia has been designated a contaminated Site of National Interest (Siti di interesse nazionale or SIN), indicating that contamination poses a risk to human health.

Monitoring activities have underlined the severity Brescia’s pollution. Every year EU Member States, the European Environment Agency (EEA) member countries, and some EEA collaborating countries, contribute to the European air quality measurement database, AirBase. According to AirBase, Brescia, like many cities of the Po Valley, is one of the most polluted cities in Europe. Likewise, all Italian municipalities report municipal solid waste data annually to the Italian National Institute for Environmental Protection and Research (ISPRA), which develops the National Municipal Waste Report. Brescia has one of the highest per capita levels of municipal solid waste in Italy (ISPRA 2015).

Brescia is undergoing a transition towards becoming a post-industrial city. Accordingly, institutions and community are starting to reflect on possible directions for the city’s transformation. Environmental problems have prompted a response from civil society to promote a better urban environment and enhance the quality of life. Many associations and informal groups of citizens continue to struggle against the pollution that affects the city and its province. These struggles aim to influence the city administration and politics, and change how local human-nature interactions are conceived and lived.

The first step is recognising the need for a transition towards a new culture of sustainability based on environmental justice and the right to a green and sustainable city. Accordingly, in recent years, some parts of the city have experienced positive transformations thanks to integrative approaches between top-down and bottom-up actions. However, these encouraging signs should take shape through sustainable urban plans with a clear strategy; this means valorising the experiences and work of citizens, associations and researchers looking at the sustainability transition.

In our recent paper, entitled ‘Alternative spaces of urban sustainability: results of a first integrative approach in the Italian city of Brescia’,  we present a participatory process, called the Altrevie project, which took place in the San Polo and Sanpolino neighbourhoods. San Polo became the site of conflict between the town administration and its citizens over existing and defunct or delocalised industrial sites. Over the last decade, this led to the creation of environmental committees that lobby against industrial pollution, the creation of new waste disposal areas and for the development of a shared natural park.

The paper examines processes of socio-ecological change that characterise the city (Heynen, Kaika and Swyngedouw 2006), with a focus on citizen involvement and power relations (Cook and Swyngedouw 2012). The research group worked with the local community to build a project based on the participation of civic associations and citizens, with a democratic approach to alternative practices and policies of urban sustainability. The project’s objective was to create awareness about the unsustainability of many individual choices, and to show members of the local community how they could achieve a higher degree of sustainability by altering their behaviours in daily life and taking part in collective action. In particular, the idea was to make the community aware of how to create alternative spaces of urban sustainability in their neighbourhoods and to show people how they could extricate themselves from the predominant energy-hungry and hyper-productive consumer model.

The paper analyses the potential of local spaces of alternative consumption to promote alternatives to the traditional market system. Moreover, the research reshapes a space of alternative participation that could promote an integrative approach between top-down and bottom-up processes. The project provided the participants with ways to improve the sustainability of their lifestyle choices through a number of participatory processes, including: interviews, focus groups, an ecological footprint analysis, and the activation of sustainability laboratories.

This approach helped us to clarify the sorts of motivations at play within power relations, enabling us to imagine where political points for intervention exist (Heynen 2014). It was the first study in Brescia to analyse both the dynamics of environmental policies and civic activism focusing on the socio-ecological relationships.

About the authors:  Marco Tononi is Fellow Researcher in Geography at the University of Brescia (DEM). Marco has a Ph.D. in Human and Physical Geography and his works are focused on the topics of urban political ecology, urban sustainability, cultural sustainability and GIScience.

Antonella Pietta is an Assistant Professor in Geography at the University of Brescia (DEM). Antonella’s researches explore political ecology, participatory processes, alternative economic geographies, environmental accounting systems and climate change.

Sara Bonati is associate researcher at Universidade da Madeira. She collaborates with the University of Brescia (DEM) and University of Florence (LaGeS). Sara has a Ph.D. in Human and Physical Geography and her main research interests are disaster risk reduction, climate change adaptation, risk and disaster governance, political ecology, participation and knowledge sharing, alternative economic geographies.

References

Cook I R and Swyngedouw E 2012 Cities, social cohesion and the environment: towards a future research agenda Urban Studies 49 1959–79

European Environment Agency 2017 Validated monitoring data and air quality maps, http://www.eea.europa.eu/themes/air/air-quality/map/airbase

Heynen N, Kaika M and Swyngedouw E 2006 In the nature of cities. Urban political ecology and the politics of urban metabolism Routledge, London and New York

Heynen N 2014 Urban political ecology I: the urban century, Progress in Human Geography 598–604

ISPRA 2016 Rapporto Rifiuti Urbani 2016.

Tononi M, Pietta A, and Bonati S 2017 Alternative spaces of urban sustainability: results of a first integrative approach in the Italian city of Brescia. Geogr J. doi:10.1111/geoj.12207

How landscape managers think about local landscapes influences their approaches to climate change adaptation

By Vera Köpsel, Cormac Walsh and Catherine Leyshon 

kopsel

A sign warning visitors of coastal erosion at the protected landscape of Godrevy in Cornwall (UK) – Source: © Vera Köpsel 2016

Climate change is likely to alter the appearance of many rural and coastal landscapes, for example through extreme weather, river flooding or cliff erosion . A prominent example of such impacts, often connected to climate change, was the 2013/14 winter floods in the southwest of England . Inasmuch as the climate is changing, so are our responses to its impacts as we try to both adapt to new conditions and reduce future change through mitigation.

A suitable example for researching the connections between perceptions of landscape and place, and adaptation to climate change, is Cornwall in southwest England. Many of the region’s famous landscapes are under special designations such as the Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) or the properties of the National Trust. As a peninsula stretching into the Atlantic Ocean, moreover, Cornwall is already experiencing an increase in extreme weather events, storminess, as well as river and sea flooding.

Cornwall’s coastal and rural areas are valued places of everyday life and cultural heritage. They are filled with personal attachments but coastal and rural areas are sometimes valued very differently by different groups within a society. This includes the staff of organisations responsible for managing these iconic landscapes (e.g. the National Trust, Natural England, the Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, and Cornwall Council) who bring different priorities and perspectives to their work. These subjective perceptions of places remain largely under-researched when it comes to understanding the dynamics that shape climate change adaptation processes. In our new paper, published in The Geographical Journal, we explored the different perceptions of Cornwall’s landscapes held by local landscape managers who are faced with dealing with the impacts of our changing climate. We asked how these perceptions influence their climate adaptation approaches.

The theoretical approach of our study was that of constructivist landscape research, a concept rooted deeply in human geography and focusing on subjective and collective perceptions of landscapes. By conducting qualitative interviews with local staff of organizations such as the National Trust, the AONB Partnership, Natural England and Cornwall Council, we uncovered four different narratives – in other words, storylines – about what Cornwall’s landscapes are, how they are affected by climate change, and how one should adapt to these changes. These four narratives conceptualise the Cornish landscapes as:

  • the region’s basis for economic growth
  • an intermediate result of an ongoing human-environment relationship
  • a mosaic of wildlife and habitats;
  • and a space for production, e.g. of agricultural goods.

By identifying these different narratives, we show that although superficially often understood as one and the same thing, the concept of landscape means very different things to different actors concerned with its management. These varying understandings of the landscapes have direct implications for how they should be managed in the context of a changing climate: from preserving the status quo and rejecting any built interventions through a focus on community-led action, to a call for hard engineering – different constructions of landscapes result in potentially conflicting demands for adaptation measures in Cornwall. Understanding which landscape perceptions underlie such differing approaches to adaptation becomes especially important when the adaptation activities of one group negatively impact on what another group values about a landscape.

Leaving unarticulated the taken-for-granted constructions that landscape management actors have of their local landscapes holds great potential for misunderstandings and can present an obstacle to sustainable climate adaptation. As climate change adaptation is a societal challenge which demands the transdisciplinary cooperation of many different organizations and actors on the local level, our research makes an important contribution to furthering constructive dialogue about how to adapt landscapes and places to the impacts of a changing climate. With ever greater emphasis on multi-agency working to achieve climate change adaptation in landscape management, it is important that future research investigates the diverse perceptions people have of the places they manage, to secure effective action at the local level.

About the author: Vera Köpsel and Cormac Walsh are both research associates at the University of Hamburg. Catherine Leyshon is Professor of Human Geography at the Univesity of Exeter. 

60-world2 Carrington D 2016 Study reveals huge acceleration in erosion of England’s white cliffsThe Guardian 7 November 2016.

60-world2 Herald Express 2016 South Devon beaches have ‘not recovered’ after ferocious storms of 2014. 27 Nov 2016.

books_icon Köpsel, V., Walsh, C. and Leyshon, C. 2016 Landscape narratives in practice: implications for climate change adaptation. Geogr J. doi:10.1111/geoj.12203

books_icon Radford T 2016 Stronger storms coming to Europe’s Atlantic seaboard The Ecologist 8 April 2016

60-world2 Vaughan A 2014 England and Wales hit by wettest winter in nearly 250 years The Guardian 27 February 2014. 

 

Changing environments, moving people: protecting the rights of climate change refugees

By Amita Bhakta, Loughborough University

ClimaAB.jpgte change, together with the ongoing debates about the possible impacts it may have on human lives, cannot be ignored. Particular groups are already enduring the challenges of what to many may be regarded as something of the future: climate change induced displacement (CCID).

In their article in The Geographical Journal, Fornalé and Doebbler (2016) provide an in-depth discussion of the role of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) in protecting the rights of refugees on the move as a direct result of climate change, and the contention which remains in effectively ensuring that these rights are fully exercised. This is a particularly poignant issue, as the paper discusses how the UNHCR does not adequately recognise people who are displaced due to the impacts of climate change as refugees.

The Huffington Post recently reported that an estimated 20 million people, many of whom were children, who were forcibly displaced in 2015 as a result of the different impacts on them due to climate change. Due to, for example, compromises to access to shelter, education, water and sanitation – these various factors can lead to other risks such as violence and sexual abuse. These risks can mean that the rights of the refugees of climate change are at high risk of being violated. But what must be remembered, is that refugees, and their rights, need to be protected. Climate change is a global phenomenon that is being experienced by all species and all people across the world. Although refugees of climate change seek to cross physical political boundaries, environmental impacts transcend these, and therefore it is the responsibility of all people to ensure that the rights of each individual, moving or settled, and the rights of the earth to have a sustainable future will be upheld. Whether the recent COP22 meeting in Marrakech was able to discuss the impact of climate change through displacement, remains to be seen. But what is clear, is that climate change refugees, and their rights, will require significant attention in years to come.

books_icon Fornalé, E. and Doebbler, C.F.J. 2016 ‘UNHCR and protection and assistance for the victims of climate change’ The Geographical Journal

60-world2 Oakes, R. 2016 ‘Climate Change, Migration and the Rights of Children’  The Huffington Post Retrieved 27 November 2016

books_icon Hicks, C. 2016, ‘COP22 host Morocco launches action plan to fight devastating climate change’ The Guardian Retrieved 27 November 2016

Islamic leaders and Islamic law – a conundrum?

By Christine G Schenk, University of Geneva

Aceh_Schenk.jpg

Image credit: (c) Christine Schenk

Islamic law and Islamic leaders are often portrayed as a cohesive, inflexible block. But engagements with Islamic law and Islamic leaders are highly diverse as debates and initiatives around Islam, gender and feminism show (see the blog Muslims in Interwar Europe). My article, recently published in The Geographical Journal, highlights the diversity and reflexivity of Islamic leaders. Internal deliberations among Islamic leaders can not only reconcile co-existent laws but also different religious schools of thought in many Muslim societies. These deliberations are particularly important, for example, in legal reforms on family law (see the network Women living under Muslim laws).

The article examines deliberations among Islamic leaders adhering to the Shafi school (Sunni Islam) on family law in Aceh, Indonesia between 2006 – 2008. This reform was particularly contentious as family law regulates, among other duties, marriages and aims to provide legal security, especially to women. But due to nearly 30 years of conflict between the Aceh Free Movement (Gerakan Aceh Merdeka, GAM) and the Central Government of Indonesia, and the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami, family law was hardly implemented. The civil administration was dormant, while Acehnese communities were governed by Islamic law and customary law.

In the process of legal reform, Islamic leaders considered the regulation of families as an intrusion of state bureaucracy into community affairs. In turn, Islamic leaders resisted calls to administer legal reform in their function as political partners within the Acehnese government. A cross-societal dialogue, facilitated by an aid agency and lobby groups, served to disentangle resistance against such legal reforms through internal deliberation. Consultation and interpretation of Islamic texts, such as the Quran, turned out to be a key element in reconciling different religious schools and co-existent laws.

Debates around gender, human rights and Islam receive pronounced attention in places that have been affected by conflict, crises and/or disaster (further information is available, for example, at Flower Aceh, and Sisters in Islam). My article argues that we need to consider the dynamics of law-making outside of Western democracies to obtain more nuanced understandings of the varieties of legal geographies across the globe.

About the author: Christine Schenk is PhD within the Department of Geography and Environment at the University of Geneva. 

books_icon Schenk, C. G. (2016), Islamic leaders and the legal geography of family law in Aceh, Indonesia. The Geographical  Journal. doi:10.1111/geoj.12202