Spatial imaginaries in flood risk management: insights from a managed retreat initiative in upper Bavaria

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Recent decades have witnessed a shift to spatial perspectives in flood risk management. It is recognized that flood protection has substantial implications for land-use plans and requires attention to the functional geographies of river basins, catchments and floodplains. It is against this background that managed retreat is increasingly identified as a viable cost-effective response to flood risk. Yet managed retreat is also a political act, involving the displacement of coastal and riverine communities. In this paper, we examine the spatial imaginaries underlying managed retreat and flood risk management through an in-depth case study of a displaced village on the Danube in Upper Bavaria, Germany. The paper provides insights into the challenges posed by diverging functional, administrative and political spatial imaginaries and how this divergence contributes to perceptions of injustice. We suggest that a shift to a more relational form of communicative planning may help to address this dilemma.

Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of Environmental Planning and Management
Issue number13
Pages (from-to)2668-2690
Number of pages23
Publication statusPublished - 01.10.2023

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This work was supported by the Irish Center for Applied Geosciences (iCRAG) under Science Foundation Ireland Grant 13/RC2092.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2022 Newcastle University.

    Research areas

  • displacement, flood risk management, managed retreat, spatial imaginaries, spatial justice
  • Environmental Governance