Fighting water with wetlands – WWT urges the creation of more nature-based solutions to combat flooding
In the aftermath of Storm Christoph, The Wildfowl and Wetlands Trust (WWT) is looking for extra nature wealthy wetlands within the UK to assist cease repeats of this sort of catastrophic flooding.
Conservationists are making a contemporary push for a re-think on flood prevention after 1000’s of residents within the North West of England and Wales have been evacuated from their houses and a warehouse storing the Oxford vaccine was compromised when the acute climate occasion swept in from the Atlantic final week. Local communities are nonetheless coping with the aftermath this week. There are at the moment 32 flood warnings and 54 flood alerts in place within the UK.
Wetlands – areas of land which might be both lined with or are saturated with water, both completely or seasonally – assist defend communities by naturally stopping and mitigating the results of flooding. WWT is urgent for extra of those habitats as a part of a pure answer to flooding, to be successfully integrated into the UK authorities’s flood alleviation insurance policies forward of World Wetlands Day on 2 February 2021.
WWT’s Senior Project Manager for Wetland Landscapes, Tim McGrath, stated: We can struggle water with wetlands. It might sound counterintuitive, however including water in the correct locations can help with flood prevention. Nature wealthy wetland habitats akin to moist grassland, peatlands, bogs, fens and saltmarsh absorb extra water, then launch it slowly again into river methods, providing a sustainable long-term answer to the rising danger of flooding and unpredictable climate patterns brought on by local weather change.
Greenshank, copyright Glyn Sellors, from the surfbirds galleries
The UK has misplaced 90% of its wetlands over the previous 400 years[i]. In cities, rivers and streams have been constructed over and wetlands, which as soon as would have absorbed and saved surplus water-flows, have been drained and channelled. In rural areas, historic wetlands have been drained for farming and growth. The impression of those losses have gotten extra extreme as local weather change will increase the volatility of our climate.
Physical flood obstacles like concrete partitions and dredging can shield houses and companies from flooding, however the price of constructing and sustaining huge flood defence schemes for each village, city and property that floods is prohibitive. Other choices are urgently wanted if native houses and communities are to be protected extra successfully in future.
Natural Flood Management (NFM), a time period to explain utilizing ponds, flood plains and moist woodlands to handle and maintain water within the land for longer, provides a extra pure, sustainable and cost-effective method of mitigating the chance which may deliver a number of advantages for folks and wildlife.
WWT is professional in creating, restoring and managing wetlands to assist naturally alleviate flooding each in city and rural settings and has been doing so for a few years. It has been working with native authorities and different conservation charities on Natural Flood Management tasks within the Cotswolds, Stroud and Gloucester. In Somerset, the place employees have been planting hedgerows and creating wetlands to guard residents, the Trust has just lately acquired £1.58m from the Government’s Green Recovery Challenge Fund to additional shield and improve the coast there.
WWT’s Carina Gaertner, who oversees the mission in Somerset, stated: Overly managed landscapes have destroyed one in all nature’s nice flood defences – wetlands. For the previous 200 years we’ve got been responsible of mismanaging wetlands, clearing out watercourses, straightening and sanitising them; making water circulation away as rapidly as doable – however inflicting flooding downstream. We have to rewind the clock and re-wild our rivers, streams and different wetlands. We want to alter our mind-sets to a much less tidy strategy so water is held within the panorama for so long as doable to permit it to slowly cross via the catchment over an extended interval fairly than speeding off the land in a flash flood.
In city areas, rainwater has lengthy been handled as waste to be channelled out of cities and cities by way of drains that may overflow following heavy intervals of rain and spill into the sewage system. WWT promotes SuDS – sustainable drainage methods. They handle the rain on the level it hits the bottom or roof, gradual the circulation of water and cleanse it because it passes. The water is then retained in a system of ponds, swales, rain gardens and filter strips which may be created anyplace. As they incorporate water and crops, they can assist wildlife in the identical methods as pure wetlands.
The prices of Storm Ciara and Storm Dennis that swept the UK in early 2020 are nonetheless being calculated. Across the nation, a whole bunch of companies have been badly broken. Early estimates counsel the associated fee to the insurance coverage business of each storms may hit £425 million. By the 2050s the annual common losses from coastal and river flooding in England and Wales may rise to between £1.6 and £6.8 billion[ii].
WWT is working carefully with organisations just like the Environment Agency to construct up a physique of proof to assist persuade Governments, companies, landowners and property homeowners to put money into wetlands – be they woody dams, city rain gardens or saltmarshes – as a nature-based answer to decreasing flooding.
For extra info on how nature-rich wetlands cut back flooding go to wwt.org.uk/flooding.
Lauren Turner, 27, from Warrington, Cheshire, needed to be evacuated by boat together with her three younger youngsters aged 6, 2 and a couple of months following Storm Christoph.
I first began to fret on Wednesday night because the water stage was creeping up the backyard. When I awoke the subsequent morning at 6am, the electrics had gone. It was solely once I obtained to the highest of my stairs that I seen the complete floor flooring of our home lined in murky water.
It was scary. My poor six-year-old was inconsolable as a result of he didn’t perceive what was taking place and thought that the water would hold rising and that we wouldn’t be capable of escape.
We stayed upstairs till the rescue boats got here for us within the afternoon. The hearth providers have been sensible and it was the primary time I felt like I may chill out and that my youngsters and I have been protected.
I’m at the moment staying with the daddy of my youngsters. We co-parent and fortunately have a superb relationship.
I don’t know once we’ll be capable of transfer again in. We have been advised that the floodwater had combined with sewage so not solely do the flooring have to be changed, the home must be deep-cleaned too. Everything on the bottom flooring is destroyed and wishes changing together with my couch, a bookcase, my rug and the children’ toys which have been downstairs. I do not know what the associated fee will likely be, however I definitely can’t afford to do that usually.
Apparently, this space is vulnerable to flooding at the moment of 12 months however my neighbours have stated they’ve by no means seen it this dangerous.
As a neighborhood, we hope one thing will likely be accomplished so we don’t must expertise this once more. We are all very fearful.
I’ve by no means skilled flooding earlier than and it has fully modified how I really feel about my dwelling. I used to really feel protected there – I cherished it – however now I’m afraid that that is one thing we’ll must undergo as a household, yearly.