The role of place attachment in proactive and reactive adaptation to flood risk
PublisherUniversity of East Anglia
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This research examines the role of relationship with place in reactive and proactive adaptation to flood risk in England. There is currently little research into how floods affect relationship with place and how this relationship may determine adaptive behaviour. As the social limits to adaptation are increasingly recognised, theories about relationship with place offer a new perspective as to how flood risk is interpreted and acted on. This research examines how place attachment and place meaning interacts with flood risk at the household and community scale, and the role of place attachment in involvement in adaptation planning decisions. Fieldwork took place in two locations, Cumbria, where adaptation measures were in response to flooding that occurred in 2009 and Barnes, an area that is at risk of flooding and is part of the Thames Estuary 2100 plan that addresses flood risk in the coming century. Place attachment, place meaning, social capital and trust in institutions were examined using face-to-face surveys (n=380). In order to gain a deeper understanding of the relationship between place and flood experience in-depth interviews were carried out with fourteen older adults in Cumbria. The study finds that place attachment predicts choices and behaviours in pro-active adaptation to flood risk. When adaptation is reactive the strength of the relationship between adaptation behaviour and place attachment weakens. Following a flood, place related meanings change, this research finds that social aspects of place become more important to the individual and shape how place is experienced and can act to increase adaptive capacity. These findings demonstrate the dynamic nature of relationship with place and suggest that place attachment plays a different role in involvement in adaptation decisions depending on whether behaviour is in anticipation of, or in reaction to, environmental risk.