Waterways flow with emotional bonds

7 Apr 2016
A canoe at Bulimba Creek
A University of Queensland study of people’s values towards waterways has found that South-East Queensland residents have deep emotional bonds with Moreton Bay, rivers and creeks.
UQ School of Agriculture and Food Sciences’ Professor Helen Ross said the study found that these waterways supported a range cultural, commercial, recreational and conservation activities for local residents.
“Our study found the value people put on these places is widely shared, despite the waterways having multiple uses,” Professor Ross said.
“Community views about Moreton Bay and its catchment are often not well known or understood, and often not considered in management and policy-making.
“This project provides knowledge that can assist policy makers and managers of waterway resources respond to the needs and desires of the whole community.”
Professor Ross and UQ School of Historical and Philosophy Inquiry's Dr Sylvie Shaw and their team interviewed selected people involved in recreation and leisure activities, tourism, industry, community, environment sector, and government and Indigenous traditional custodians.
Professor Ross said a majority of the study participants felt a connection with nature and an appreciation for its beauty.
“Many also commonly voiced a concern for the waterways and a need to care for and protect them,” she said.
Even participants who used rivers for practical purposes such as fishing and water supply, maintained emotional bonds with their local waterways and valued their beauty.
“It’s important to develop a social understanding of our precious waterways, as a complement to physical science research in looking after our waterways,” Professor Ross said.
“Managers can then communicate clearly to the public how their management interventions will serve to maintain the values that are most important to people.”
The findings are part of an ongoing Australian Research Council Linkage Project with the Queensland Government, Healthy Waterways, Traditional Custodians, and SEQ Catchments.  
Find out how you can engage with your local waterway during Connect to Your Creek Week, 9­–17 April 2016 through kayaking, tree-planting, picnics and more. Visit healthywaterways.org.
Media: Professor Helen Ross, helen.ross@uq.edu.au, 0408 195 324.