River mapping reveals unchartered territory
(1 November 2009)
A new study of river boundaries has revealed that up to 7% of the world’s river boundaries, the equivalent of thousands of kilometres, are missing from records used for the resolution of international disputes.
Durham University’s ‘International River Boundaries Database’ (IRBD) represents the most comprehensive collection of information concerning the lengths and definitions of river boundaries worldwide
The IRBD, the work of John Donaldson from the International Boundaries Research Unit, part of the Department of Geography at Durham University, is based upon the observation of rivers on large-scale, as opposed to small-scale, maps.
John Donaldson said: “Rivers have formed boundaries throughout history, particularly in the colonial period of boundary-making. There are major issues in demarcating boundaries through and along rivers, not least the division of territory from one river bank to another.
“Rivers shift and issues such as navigation rights and border administration can be complex to resolve. River rights will continue to be contentious. The new database helps policy makers to form a better picture of boundaries at much more detailed level.”
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