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A Wall out of Place: a Hydrological and Sociocultural Analysis of Physical Changes to the Lakeshore of Como, Italy

Sarah Laborde, Centre for Water Research, University of Western Australia; School of Social and Cultural Studies, University of Western Australia
Jorg Imberger, Centre for Water Research, University of Western Australia
Sandy Toussaint, School of Social and Cultural Studies, University of Western Australia; Centre for Excellence in Natural Resource Management, University of Western Australia

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.5751/ES-04610-170133

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Abstract

The construction of a flood protection structure that obscured views of the lake in Como, northern Italy, led to unprecedented public protest in 2009–2010 and to the eventual dismantlement of the structure. This provided a focus to investigate the delicate interplay of technical and cultural matters in environmental policy—in this case, catchment management and flood prevention. This article shows how a focus on hydrological control in isolation from the rest of the catchment and from the sociocultural context contributed to the projectís failure. A key message of the article is that data and analyses from the environmental and social sciences are both pivotal to environmental planning, as they inform different yet interdependent components of a single project. There is value in integrating technical and sociocultural knowledge, both at the academic level, as illustrated by the mixed methods used in this article, and at the policy level, through management frameworks that emphasize cross-sectoral learning and public participation. The analysis also reveals that the notion of "place" has a central role to play in this process of integration, both as a conceptual bridge between technical and sociocultural components of environmental studies and as an emphasis in environmental planning activities to foster the interest and engagement of communities.

Key words

cross-disciplinary science; flood mitigation; Italy; lake catchment governance; place attachment; social movement; technocratic planning
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Ecology and Society. ISSN: 1708-3087