Flood risks and ecosystem services

Screen Shot 2014-01-04 at 22.59.59 PMFlooding has been in the news again, and for many unfortunate people it has been in their homes!  You can use this map to find out the flood risk where you live, and check here for the latest flood alerts. You can also monitor the river level in Lewes at this page.

UK Government policy acknowledges that climate change is increasing the risk of flooding, but are we doing enough to protect the ecosystem services that could mitigate some of this risk?  Here is a quote from a recent report by the Department of Environment, Food and Rural Affairs:

Natural flood risk management involves working with natural processes to reduce flood
risk and damage. It involves working at the catchment scale and concerns the alteration,
restoration or use of landscape features; mechanisms include storing water using
landscape features, increasing soil infiltration, and slowing water by interrupting and
increasing resistance to its flow. Such measures may be able to reduce the height of
downstream water levels during a flood, or delay the arrival of the peak of the flood. These
measures, applied strategically, may also yield wider ecosystem service benefits such as
enhancing water quality, habitat for wildlife, biodiversity, carbon capture, landscape and
greenspace provision. When these benefits are taken into account, natural flood risk
management may in some cases be the best option.

The full report is here: Defra, 2013, Developing the potential for Payments for Ecosystem Services: an Action Plan

The protection of natural wetlands is one way to reduce flood risks.  You can read more about the benefits of local wetlands, and the threats they face, in this report from The Sussex Wildlife Trust.