EARTH IS THE MOTHER AND THE WATERWAYS ARE THE VEINS THAT FLOW THROUGH HER A qualitative study on the trend of personification in river management
Abstract: This thesis look at the trend of personification of rivers by examining the unprecedented legislation the Yarra River Protection (Wilip-gin Birrarung Murron) Act 2017 (hereafter Yarra/Birrarung Act) and the well-established Environmental Water Manager, the Victorian Environmental Water Holder (VEWH). The aim of the thesis is to contribute with knowledge on why there is a trend of personification in river management and what implications that brings. Drawing on theories of co-management, property rights and legal rights, a theoretical approach is developed. The theoretical approach is applied in a qualitative content analysis of key informant interviews. The results indicate that the Yarra/Birrarung Act and the VEWH were motivated by pressures on rivers, ambitions to integrate management and similar developments elsewhere. The Yarra/Birrarung Act was also motivated by community engagement and reconciliation with the Traditional Owners the Wurundjeri whereas the VEWH was also motivated by water management arrangements already in place as well as severe droughts. The outcomes of the Yarra/Birrarung Act were the recognition of the river as an entity and the creation of a voice through a council to speak on behalf of the river. The main outcome of the VEWH was a statutory corporation with legal personality to hold and manage environmental water entitlements. The conclusions show that the Yarra/Birrarung Act and the VEWH apply very differently to the theoretical approach. However, there are elements of the Yarra/Birrarung Act that indicate on a new direction in the trend of personification of rivers.
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