New European Environment Agency report says dam removal helps to improve floodplain services
A recent report published by the European Environment Agency shows the necessity of a more ecosystem-based approach to the management of floodplains to conserve and restore biodiversity in rivers, lakes and wetlands, and increase water retention.
“The EEA report, Floodplains: a natural system to preserve and restore, points to studies that show that up to 90% of floodplains have been environmentally degraded as a result of structural flood protection, river straightening, disconnection of floodplain wetlands, agricultural land use and urbanisation over the past two centuries. This degradation has put floodplains in a poor position to adequately provide important ecosystem services that could otherwise handle the increased risk of flooding due to climate change, as well as improve water and biodiversity status. Urban and agricultural development of floodplains together with structural flood protection have contributed greatly to disconnecting rivers from their floodplains, reducing their critical roles in flood and drought mitigation, as habitats, and in water quality protection. These changes have also made today’s floods more damaging.”
In their report, they mention several measures that will improve the services of floodplains including removal of dams, weirs and other barriers. They write that this will improve fluvial dynamics, as well as sedimentary and ecological continuity. We hope Member States will employ more nature-based solutions in an effort to achieve Good Ecological Status of their rivers as prescribed by the Water Framework Directive.
“Nature based solutions refer to initiatives in which flood protection is provided, while at the same time the natural properties of the floodplain and its connection to the river are restored. Nature-based solutions are both cost effective and an integral part of ecosystem based management.”
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