BF 138/14: Social factors influencing the success of passive flood protection

Georg Wiesinger, Theresia Oedl-Wieser, Thomas Lampalzer

Passive flood protection defines spaces that are essentially dedicated to the "flowing retention" of water bodies. Other uses of these spaces, for example agricultural and forestry, are possible in a limited form. Overall, this is a sustainable, albeit land-extensive, option for protecting the (remaining) cultivated area from flood damage. Due to the extensiveness of the area, planners have to take complex actor-network relationships into account. There are well-known projects that could not be established despite considerable planning efforts. They get stuck due to supposed "trivialities" within the social project sphere. On the other hand, there are projects that could be successfully realised - with more or less compromises. It is assumed that there are significant differences in the project-specific information, communication, power and hierarchy structures, as well as in the local socio-historical development patterns. In contrast, no serious differences in the technical quality of the projects are expected.

The research interest is directed towards social factors influencing the feasibility of passive flood protection and leads to the question: How do the respective actor networks function?

The distant goal is to incorporate the material obtained into a more theoretically oriented work on dealing with so-called natural hazards from the perspective of spatial planning. The focus will be on the question of winners and losers in sustainable and public welfare-oriented protection projects.

Elaborated projects for passive flood protection will be reconstructed. Two project categories will be distinguished in advance:

    Projects that show patterns of rapid realisation.
    Projects that show patterns of impeded realisation or unrealisability. The actor networks relevant to each project are to be identified and compared with regard to categories that have an accelerating or inhibiting effect on the realisation of passive flood protection.

In cooperation with the Torrent and Avalanche Control, all qualitative interviews in the three flood protection project regions Schlattenbach (Lower Austria), Pertisau (Tyrol) and Johnsbach (Styria) were completed, transcribed and qualitatively analysed, interpreted and written up using MAXQDA.

The project was concluded at the beginning of 2019 with Facts&Featuires No. 58 "Actor networks in preventive protective hydraulic engineering of the Forest Engineering Service for Torrent and Avalanche Control" and presented to a wider public in the field of science and practice.

Project Status


Project Leader



Rural Sociology and Library



Mag.a Theresia OEDL-Wieser

Rural Sociology and Library


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