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Realizing the value of fluvial geomorphology

Everard, Mark; Quinn, Nevil

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Mark Everard
Associate Professor in Ecosystem Services


© 2015 International Association for Hydro-Environment Engineering and Research. Fluvial geomorphological forms and processes exert a fundamental influence on riverine processes and functions. They thereby contribute significantly to beneficial services for humanity, yet remain largely undervalued. Major ecosystem service studies to date tend to overlook the contribution of geodiversity and geomorphological processes, particularly of fluvial geomorphology, to human well-being. Yet, management of the water environment which overlooks fundamental driving processes, such as those encompassed by fluvial geomorphology, is inherently unsustainable. Inferences from the literature highlight a broad range of contributions of fluvial processes and forms to the four ecosystem service categories of the Millennium Ecosystem Assessment, contributing to system functioning, resilience and human well-being. Fluvial geomorphologists can help society better address sustainability challenges by raising the profile of fluvial forms and processes to continuing human well-being and system resilience. To achieve this, we identify three challenges: (1) cross-disciplinary collaboration, addressing interrelations between biodiversity and geodiversity as well as broader scientific disciplines; (2) quantification to an appropriate level and, where possible, mapping of service generation and benefit realization; and (3) persuasive demonstration projects emphasizing how investment in this aspect of the natural environment can enhance service provision and net human benefits. We explore lessons learnt from case studies on river rehabilitation, floodplain management, and mapping ecosystem services. We contend that linking fluvial geomorphology to societal well-being outcomes via the language of ecosystem services provides a pathway towards social and economic recognition of relevance, influencing policy-makers about their importance and facilitating their ‘mainstreaming’ into decision-making processes. We also advance a prototype conceptual model, guiding fluvial geomorphologists better to articulate the contribution to a sustainable flow of services through better characterization of: (1) interactions between anthropogenic pressures and geomorphology; (2) how forms and processes contribute to ecosystem services; and (3) guidance on better management reflecting implications for service provision.


Everard, M., & Quinn, N. (2015). Realizing the value of fluvial geomorphology. International Journal of River Basin Management, 13(4), 487-500.

Journal Article Type Article
Publication Date Jan 1, 2015
Deposit Date Jun 15, 2015
Publicly Available Date Jun 10, 2016
Journal International Journal of River Basin Management
Print ISSN 1571-5124
Electronic ISSN 1814-2060
Publisher Taylor & Francis
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 13
Issue 4
Pages 487-500
Keywords ecosystem services, fluvial geomorphology, river restoration, ecosystem approach, ecosystem assessment
Public URL
Publisher URL
Additional Information Additional Information : This is an Accepted Manuscript of an article published by Taylor & Francis in International Journal of River Basin Management on 10 June 2015, available online:


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