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Policy dimensions of land-use change in peri-urban floodplains: the case of Paraty

JosÚ Barbedo, Universidade Federal do Rio de Janeiro, COPPE/UFRJ
Marcelo Miguez, Escola PolitÚcnica & COPPE, Universidade Federal do Rio de Janeiro
Dan van der Horst, University of Edinburgh
Paulo Carneiro, Universidade Federal do Rio de Janeiro
Philip Amis, University of Birmingham, International Development Department
Antonio Ioris, University of Edinburgh


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Peri-urban floodplains located in upstream reaches of urban areas play a key role in the resilience of social-ecological systems. The need to adapt to increasing flood risks by protecting these natural assets represents a huge challenge for many cities facing rapid expansion and limited financial resources for the mitigation of environmental impacts. To understand how better governance and management can be put in place, there is a need to map the key players shaping and/or being impacted by land-use change processes and assess the barriers keeping them from playing a more constructive role in the collaborative governance of cities, the natural resources which sustain them, and the environmental risks that pose a threat. A conceptualization of power regarding natural resource governance is presented and its implications for the relationships between actors and the many scales of decision making is discussed. Drawing on existing literature, we develop a heuristic framework for analyzing policy dimensions of land-use change processes, and reflect on the possible ways for key stakeholders to become over time more committed to and involved in a collaborative approach to the development of land use policies for urban flood prevention. We apply this framework to the Brazilian city of Paraty, a case study through which the recurring problem of flooding exposes the deepening tensions between conservation and development. Empirical results demonstrate the need to acknowledge the politicization of floodplain change and the importance of trying to bridge the gap between sectors and actors with conflicting interest in urban environmental management.

Key words

adaptive management; Brazil; flood prevention; land-use adaptation; reflexive governance; water-flow regulation services

Copyright © 2015 by the author(s). Published here under license by The Resilience Alliance. This article is under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License. You may share and adapt the work provided the original author and source are credited, you indicate whether any changes were made, and you include a link to the license.

Ecology and Society. ISSN: 1708-3087