Relating with rivers: geomorphic foundations for ethical cross-cultural dialogue in river management

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Integrative, participatory and adaptive approaches to river management are widely accepted as best practice, and yet in many cases the reality falls short of expectations. Recent developments in geomorphology, which work with social dimensions of rivers and a strong sense of place, may provide a way to connect communities with river science for the development of river management practices that better address the need for participation and knowledge integration. However, little literature exists on these geomorphological
approaches and how they can be applied in different settings. This paper draws on a case study from research undertaken with members of a Local Aboriginal Land Council where dialogue was established between researcher and participants that changed relationships between people, and between people and river. This research was framed by sociogeomorphology and ethnogeomorphology and applied principles of good Indigenous Social Impact Assessment as an ethical benchmark for cross-cultural engagement. Emerging from these experiences is the potential for future river management being informed by dialogue and relationships established in place. Principles from this approach to integrating science with community perspectives may be applied in river management settings to improve participation and communication across cultures.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationProceedings of the 8th Australian Stream Management Conference
EditorsGeoff J. Vietz, Alissa J. Flatley, Ian D. Rutherfurd
Place of PublicationMelbourne, Australia
PublisherRiver Basin Management Society
Number of pages9
ISBN (Print)9780734052988
Publication statusPublished - 2016
EventAustralian Stream Management Conference (8th : 2016) - Leura, Australia
Duration: 31 Jul 20163 Aug 2016


ConferenceAustralian Stream Management Conference (8th : 2016)


  • environmental history
  • Indigenous perspectives
  • river management
  • social geomorphology
  • participation
  • relational thinking


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