Location: Room 221, Geography building
BSc (Hons) Environmental Management (1st Class), London Metropolitan University (2004);
MSc Aquatic Resource Management, King’s College London (2005)
School of Geography
Queen Mary, University of London
Mile End Road
London E1 4NS
Urban river habitat: hydro-ecology and geomorphology; Water quality; Integrated water resource management; Water Framework Directive; Socio-environmental decision making; Global environmental change; Stakeholder engagement.
Thesis title: An Interdisciplinary approach to Assessing, Planning and Managing Urban River Ecosystem Services
Funded by: ESRC / NERC
Prof. Angela Gurnell
Dr Michael Raco (KCL Geography)
Brief outline of PhD research
The main focus of this research is upon the restoration and sustainable management of urban river habitat and eco-services in the context of delivering the requirements of EU Water Framework Directive (2000/60/EC) in the Thames River Basin District (RBD). This interdisciplinary project examines the interface between physical understanding of urban river habitat resilience and dynamism (using the Urban River Survey) and socio-economic understanding of the implementation (planning and delivery) of urban river restoration projects: facilitated by urban governance approaches, through partnership between government bodies, NGOs, local and private sector stakeholders; and regeneration planning.
River management policy tools currently operating within the Thames RBD include the London River Action Plan and the Thames River Basin Management Plan (RBMP). A primary target of the London Rivers Action Plan is the restoration of 15 km of river by 2015 (LRAP, 2008). The delivery of the LRAP river restoration and rehabilitation actions will make a significant contribution towards the achievement of WFD targets as part of the ‘measures’ programme (Environment Agency, 2009). Due to the complexity of the issues associated with urban environmental management, the implementation of these works is uncertain and will require the involvement of multiple agencies and funding schemes through a range of governance structures and stakeholder involvement. Diverse funding sources and partnership agreements are critical to the level of implementation that can be achieved both in terms of the individual scale and overall density of schemes.
In addition to understanding the socio-economic and governance context in which river restoration may achieved, it is also vital to be able to identify the ‘best’ sites and measures that can be used to ensure a balance between reach scale habitat improvements and network scale connectivity between enhanced reaches. The Urban River Survey (URS) provides a specialised and rapid assessment tool for the physical habitat of urban rivers (Boitsidis, 2006), making it possible to assemble sufficient information on urban river reaches and networks to differentiate between stretches in terms of their current physical and ecological characteristics, and to identify appropriate measures and reaches to achieve the most cost-effective river improvements.
Therefore, this research will investigate the degree to which successful, cost-effective river environment improvements can be achieved through a combination of river- and human-oriented approaches. Analysis of four case study restoration sites will provide different pre-project, project implementation, and post project time slices of schemes of different engineering style and these will be used to understand how
- different actors, procedures and financial resources contribute to achieving river restoration;
- different ecosystem services are delivered; and
- different levels of environmental and human success are achieved.
Plotting the pre- and post-restoration state of the case studies on the URS matrix (or more precisely, the environmental gradients behind the matrix) will allow the broad environmental success or improvement of each scheme to be judged in the context of urban rivers in general; ecological surveys of the schemes will give greater precision regarding the environmental quality of these schemes. At the same time, as an extension to the URS environmental data collection, relevant socio-economic information will also be analysed to develop additional urban river catchment assessment capabilities
EC, (2000) Water Framework Directive 2000/60/EC
Environment Agency, (2009) Thames River Basin Management Plan
Boitsidis, A.J., et al., (2006) A decision support system for identifying the habitat quality and rehabilitation potential of urban rivers. Water and Environment Journal.
Gurnell, et al (submitted) Gradients in the biophysical structure of urban rivers induced by channel engineering