In industrialized societies, urbanization significantly alters natural waterways, deepening the disconnection between humans and rivers. This shift leads to a decline in river culture and diminishes our experiences with nature. To counter this, current river restoration initiatives transform rivers into green-blue infrastructure and create public spaces for diverse recreational activities, fostering new opportunities for societal engagement with rivers.
During the summer of 2022, Dr. Yixin Cao from the University of Tours in France conducted a pivotal study at three Chinese Water Museums: the Baiheliang Underwater Museum in Chongqing, the Changjiang Civilization Museum in Wuhan, and the National Water Museum of China in Hangzhou. This research unveiled a range of public perceptions, evaluations, and preferences regarding urban rivers, particularly in the context of the growing urban river restoration projects in China.
The findings were published in the journal Urban Ecosystems: https://doi.org/10.1007/s11252-023-01441-w
Building on this innovative study in China, November 2022 saw the Global Network of Water Museums (WAMU-NET), in collaboration with the UNESCO Chair River Culture - Fleuves et Patrimoine and the University of Tours, launch a new global survey with a webinar. This survey aims to delve into human-river relationships across various sociocultural landscapes, setting the stage for future transnational and transcontinental comparisons:
Utilizing a GIS-based platform, the survey invites international participation (access to the questionnaire: https://arcg.is/1OHDG00
Available in seven languages (see instruction for language selection in Figure 1), the questionnaire has been disseminated through water museums in Europe, Asia, and Latin America (see Table 1: list of museums and Figure 2: map of participants).
To date, this global survey has garnered 110 responses, highlighting a diverse demographic: 70% female, 30% male, with an average age of 42 years, and 85% holding a university degree or higher. The preliminary results are revealing; participants have engaged with rivers through a variety of recreational activities (see Figure 3) and expressed distinct preferences for river restoration scenarios, influenced by their personal living experiences (see Figure 4). The overarching goal of this initiative is to promote a harmonious coexistence between humans and biota within urban river corridors. We thus encourage more museums to join this innovative and insightful program…