G. Mathias Kondolf

senior fellow
EURIAS cohort 2017/2018
discipline Environmental Studies
Professor of Environmental Planning and Geography, Department of Landscape Architecture & Environmental Planning, University of California Berkeley

Research project

The Social Connectivity of Urban Rivers: Integrating Social and Natural Science in River Restoration


Concepts of connectivity are well established in the literature dealing with biophysical aspects of river processes, restoration and management, occurring in longitudinal, lateral, and vertical dimensions. These concepts can be adapted to social connectivity, the communication and movement of people, goods, ideas, and culture along and across rivers, recognizing longitudinal, lateral, and vertical connectivity, social interactions that are especially intense and pervasive in urban reaches of rivers.


Urban riverfront projects have become ubiquitous in the developed, and increasingly in the developing worlds, but what constitutes ‘restoration’ in the urban context is still contested, especially in the developing world. A controversial project on the Sabarmati River in Ahmedabad, India, is creating spaces for public enjoyment of a restored river, but is displacing thousands of poor inhabitants from the riverbanks as it fills land for high-end apartment blocks and hotels.


With researchers at the lab Environnement, Ville, Société (Yves Le Lay, Marylise Cottet, Emeline Comby), I examine recent riverfront revitalization projects within a framework of connectivity, along an axis of ecological vs. social restoration, and with respect to environmental justice.  For a set of approximately 30 recently completed or ongoing urban riverfront revitalization projects for which data are readily available, I am compiling goals, location, extent, modifications undertaken, date, implementing agency, cost, funding source, monitoring data, and conduct textual analysis on the goals and benefits stated for these projects by the proponents, using open source software such as TXM. For three case studies, I draw upon aerial imagery (BD Ortho), IGN maps, and other historical sources to document changes in the river form, review relevant documents, and conduct site visits to observe human uses of the river, and interview managers to better understand the background of the projects.


I will co-convene a special session at the next IS Rivers conference (in 2018 in Lyon)and co-edit a special journal issue in the journal Sustainability as an outlet for papers presented at IS Rivers in June 2018.





G. Mathias Kondolf is Professor of Environmental Planning at the University of California in Berkeley. He holds a Ph.D in Geography and Environmental Engineering from the Johns Hopkins University. His main research interests focus on human-river interactions in general, with particular emphasis on management of flood-prone lands, sediment management in reservoirs and regulated river channels, and river restoration. His current research includes the Lower Colorado, Sacramento, Trinity, and Klamath Rivers of California/Oregon; the Apalachicola River, Florida; and the Lower Mekong River.



Selected publications


'The Social Connectivity of Urban Rivers', with P. Pinto, Geomorphology, vol. 277, 2017, pp. 182-196.

'Sediment Yield Reduction Associated with Land Use Changes and Check Dams in a Catchment of the Loess Plateau, China', with G. Zhao, et al., Catena, vol. 148, no. 2, 2017, pp. 126-137.

'The Line of Beauty in River Designs: Hogarth’s Aesthetic Theory on Capability Brown’s Eighteenth-Century River Design and Twentieth-Century River Restoration Design', with K. Podolak, Landscape Research, vol. 41, no. 1, 2016, pp. 149-167.

'Encroachments in Floodways of the Mississippi River and Tributaries Project', with P. Lopez-Llompart, Natural Hazards, vol. 81, no. 1, 2016, pp 513–542.

'Trends in Publications in Fluvial Geomorphology over Two Decades: A truly New Era in the Discipline Owing to Recent Technological Revolution?', with H. Piégay, J.T. Minear & L. Vaudor, Geomorphology, vol. 248, 2015, pp. 489–500.




senior fellow
EURIAS promotion 2011/2012
Collegium de Lyon
discipline Political Science
senior fellow
EURIAS promotion 2016/2017
Collegium de Lyon
discipline Linguistics
senior fellow
EURIAS promotion 2015/2016
Collegium de Lyon
discipline Geography
junior fellow
EURIAS promotion 2011/2012
Collegium de Lyon
discipline History