Land, Water, and Development: Sustainable Management of River Basin Systems

By Malcolm Newson | Go to book overview

Preface to the second edition

The manuscript for the first edition of this book was sent to the publishers without a settled title and I only acquiesced to ‘Land, Water and Development’ after conceding that three words balanced those of the influential Water, Earth and Man (Chorley, 1969), while being more politically correct and advancing the agenda for geography to a more practical position (the subtitle referred to ‘management’).

This second edition has become inevitable because of the weasel word which qualified ‘management’ in that subtitle—‘sustainable’. Another irony of 1992 was that ‘sustainable’ became the war-cry of environmental politics all over the world, thanks to the UN Conference on Environment and Development (the ‘Earth Summit’) held in Rio de Janeiro that summer. Like a war-cry, each nation, tribe and community has a different version, or meaning of the word. However, the Earth Summit’s ‘Agenda 21’, a UN Commission and a host of community and NGO projects have kept the debate running; the Summit focused the world’s attention on the huge discrepancies between environmental problems and their perception by nation states at different levels of development. Perhaps because of the disappointments many felt about attitudes adopted by state leaders, Agenda 21 spends much of its time on other groupings of humans and other spatial units around which the environment might be managed sustainably by popular agreement and sound administration; river basins were prominent among these Environmental Management Units (EMUs) or ‘bioregions’. Clearly, a second edition needs to update the context of the debate and some of the outcomes since 1992. It must also address another discrepancy raised in Rio—that between the power of science to explore and illuminate complex systems and the power of people in their environment to judge development pathways ‘from the gut’.

Thus, within a consensus that ‘development’ is perhaps the most important word in the environmental dictionary—and that it should be sustainable—we have a physical science agenda which is seeking inter alia for the critical capital and limits to change in natural systems and a social science agenda which is considering indigenous knowledge systems (or

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Land, Water, and Development: Sustainable Management of River Basin Systems
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents v
  • Plates ix
  • Figures x
  • Tables xv
  • Preface to the First Edition xix
  • Preface to the Second Edition xxii
  • Acknowledgements xxvi
  • Prologue xxviii
  • Chapter 1 - History of River Basin Management 1
  • Chapter 2 - Natural River Basins 23
  • Chapter 3 - Land and Water 57
  • Chapter 4 - Managing Land and Water in the Developed World 99
  • Chapter 5 - River Basins and Development 151
  • Chapter 6 - Technical Issues in River Basin Management 214
  • Chapter 7 - Institutional Issues in River Basin Management 281
  • Chapter 8 - Sustainable River Basin Management 321
  • Chapter 9 - Land and Water 351
  • Bibliography 374
  • Name Index 408
  • Subject Index 411
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