Public participation measures in river restoration projects

The PhD research focus of Paulina Budryte is the outcome of interaction between river restoration projects and local communities. This interaction process usually is carried out as public participation, which could be very different – from simple information note in local paper to very intensive round table discussions with all stakeholders participating in about every detail of the project. Depending on how public participation is structured it is possible to predict what outcomes of project development are expected. Unfortunately, uncertainty is still high. During PhD research, it is analyzed what role background preconditions (social situation such as education level, poverty level, dominating religion, also attitudes towards environment, ect.) are playing. Some previously conducted studies have shown that the same measure of public participation when is applied could help project development to be smooth and beneficial, but in other cases the same measure do more harm not just for the financial development of the project (for example, establishment of project is stopped or delayed) but also for social situation in the region (for example, mistrust of government has increased, local people loose connection with the place, gentrification appear).

Interaction between river restoration projects and local communities has a lot of “ifs” and exceptions. However, to have a proper “tool-box” with appropriate instruction how to use exact measures is the expected outcome of this research. Since PhD research makes a strong emphasis on cultural phenomena and social context in the areas of the case studies and that allows understanding interaction between river restoration projects and local communities more fundamentally. It is expected that the essential attributes of decision-making process of local communities and management of river restoration projects are unveiled.