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1 September 2007 Perceptions and Attitudes Toward De-polderisation in Europe: A Comparison of Five Opinion Surveys in France and the UK
Lydie Goeldner-Gianella
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Western Europe's de-polderisation policy was launched in the 1980s and has since spread along the coasts, especially in the UK, where it is governed by coastal defence objectives through “managed realignment” and environmental objectives that are predominant elsewhere. Various means of de-polderisation exist: through tidal gates, breaches, or sea dike removal. Although physical studies on de-polderisation should be continued, it is equally important to examine the social context, favouring or not, of marsh restoration because acceptance of any de-polderisation scheme largely depends on public opinion. The results of five opinion surveys carried out in France and the UK were thus compared and revealed diverging opinions or unexpected indifference toward de-polderisation. A profile of those opposed shows that they are relatively old and regularly frequent the de-polderised sites or live near them. “Negative” reactions, however, are also linked to a lack of knowledge about the marsh environment and of the effects of de-polderisation. Other explanations surface as well: that today coastal environments are quite simply viewed as “landscape,” the degree of human intervention in the implemented schemes, the physical and eustatic context, and the degree to which people are informed. Public knowledge could be improved and mentalities changed through better communication methods, especially on a local level. Furthermore, the creation of a “variables bank” capable of explaining public attitudes and perceptions more systematically would also improve “social management” of the de-polderisation policy.

Lydie Goeldner-Gianella "Perceptions and Attitudes Toward De-polderisation in Europe: A Comparison of Five Opinion Surveys in France and the UK," Journal of Coastal Research 23(5), 1218-1230, (1 September 2007).
Received: 19 April 2005; Accepted: 20 May 2005; Published: 1 September 2007
coastal wetlands
managed realignment
marsh restoration
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