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Flood Risk Maps

RISKMAP: Improving flood risk maps as a means to foster public participation and raising risk awareness: toward flood resilient communities

Despite long-lasting attempts to reduce vulnerabilities to natural hazards, the damages resulting from flooding are still increasing in Europe.

In many respects, floods are beyond the immediate control of human beings and despite an enhanced ability to predict the occurrence of floods, an increased resilience of communities at risk seems vital for reducing suffering and damages. It is the main objective of RISKMAP within a flood risk mapping process and the use of flood risk maps to raise flood awareness.

Staff at FHRC led work in two main areas: Participation and a Lower Thames Case Study.  The main objective of the work task on participation (WT2.1) was to consider the creation of risk maps within a dialogue process and create a participatory framework that allows for the constructive and open engagement, and integration, of selected stakeholders (experts, decision-makers and well as representatives of the local population), their views, information requirements and local expertise within the risk mapping process. The task hence followed the principles of good governance bringing together various categories of concerned players and stakeholders generating a co-expertise process.  The project adopted a framework developed by Stirling (2004) which advocates the value of participation and classifies the types of participation by its outcomes.  The project in particular investigated an instrumental rationale to engagement which describes how participation in practice can be used to build trust, acceptance and understanding between stakeholders and decision-makers, and a substantive rationale whereby broader and deeper knowledge should be taken into account during decision making processes in order to result in better quality decisions.  The project paid particular attention to the diagnosis of potential deficiencies and opportunities in participation and stakeholder involvement with regard to risk mapping and directly contributed to the development of best practice guidance and recommendations.

Case studies were included in the project in order to test and build upon some of the theoretical work being developed. The Lower Thames Case Study (WT4.2) investigated the issues involved in managing flood risk in a large semi-urbanised area in the lower part of the River Thames catchment, London. This case study, centered on Chertsey, Surrey, and focused on the role of the public within the process of flood risk mapping.  It investigated flood maps as communication tools for flooding issues to: engage the 'at-risk public about flood risk, gather local knowledge about flooding and to raise awareness. FHRC also contributed to a number of other work packages including; the legal framework of mapping and participation, current practices in flood risk mapping, mapping visualisation and provided public test persons for the experimental graphic semiology task.

Key project partners:

Helmholtz Centre for Environmental Research (UFZ, Germany) [project co-ordinators]; University of Natural Resources and Applied Life Sciences (BOKU, Austria); University of Applied Sciences Deggendorf (FHD, Germany) and Université François-Rabelais, Ecole Polytechnique, Département Aménagement,(UMR CITERES, France).


2nd ERA-Net CRUE Research Funding Initiative by:


2009 – 2012

FHRC Project Manager:

Dr Sally Priest

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