Friday, 4 July 2008

Wildlife Trust

Flooding - Government needs to show strong leadership

Can nautral areas help protect your home from flooding?

25th June, 2008

As the Pitt Review report into last summer’s devastating floods is launched today, The Wildlife Trusts urge the government to put nature at the heart of dealing with the future risk of flooding.

The Wildlife Trusts welcome the recommendations in Sir Michael Pitt’s report, particularly to work with natural processes through land management and land-use planning to reduce flood risk. The Wildlife Trusts believe that working with nature, such as creating wetlands to slow down and store flood water, alongside targeted hard defences is the best solution for many areas at risk of flooding.

Intensive agriculture, including overgrazing and over-abstraction of water; failure to address surface water drainage in towns and cities and inappropriate development on floodplains, coupled with the destruction of many wetland sites means that many of the natural spaces for water in our landscape have been lost. We have created an impermeable landscape and lost the sponge-like qualities of natural areas to soak up heavy rainfall.

Stephanie Hilborne, chief executive of The Wildlife Trusts, said: “The flooding in summer 2007 must be a wake-up call to end all wake-up calls. The Government now needs to show strong leadership by adopting Sir Michael Pitt’s recommendations to seriously tackle the increased risk of flooding that we now face as a result of unavoidable climate change.

“Natural solutions can make a valuable contribution not only to flood risk, but also in delivering education, recreation, economic and wildlife benefits. The Government should develop flagship projects to increase our understanding of these approaches and demonstrate the wider contribution they can make to society. The Government should also invest in a new land use funding scheme to deliver more natural solutions to flooding, including wildlife habitat restoration and re-creation.”

‘Nature’s place for water’, The Wildlife Trusts’ report on flooding demonstrates the landscape-scale approach needed by illustrating the work of Sheffield and Yorkshire Wildlife Trusts which contributes to reducing flood risk in the River Don catchment. Projects include restoring upland habitat to hold water upstream, using Sustainable Urban Drainage Schemes (SUDS), such as ponds and reedbeds to store and clean surface water and managing wetland nature reserves for flood storage in rural and urban areas.

Potteric Carr, Yorkshire Wildlife Trust’s flagship nature reserve, is one such flood storage area and saved hundreds of homes from flooding last summer by storing 200,000 cubic metres of water on the site. It is also home to hundreds of species, including the rare avocet, golden plover and swarms of black-darter dragonflies. The special design of the reserve meant that during the flooding of 2007, wildlife was able to take refuge from the floodwaters. The reedbeds also act as a water filter, improving the quality of the water before it leaves the site. Just two miles from the centre of Doncaster, the reserve attracts thousands of visitors each year.

The key now is to implement these schemes on a much wider scale than ever before. Rob Stoneman, chief executive of Yorkshire Wildlife Trust, said: “Taking a catchment approach to flood management as we are doing in the Don Valley is the only realistic long-term option. If we are to make this approach work, we have to include natural solutions alongside targeted hard defences.”

• ‘Nature’s place for water’ will be available in July on the website

For link to website, see:

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