The human and economic costs of flooding have been particularly obvious in recent years across the UK. BESS research is contributing to greater understanding around natural flood management in two ways:
- Providing evidence about the role biodiversity plays in stabilising soils and reducing peak flooding events in both coastal areas and upland rivers.
- Providing evidence about the wider role ecosystem restoration could play in mitigating longer term impacts and drivers of flooding.
- Coastal ecosystems play an important role in reducing flood risk.
- Saltmarsh biodiversity mitigates coastal erosion.
- Ecosystem restoration and management within the context of the Ecosystem Approach provides multiple benefits.
- River restoration helps stream ecosystems to adapt to climate change.
River restoration not only reduces flood risk, but also potentially generates a broader range of benefits. For instance, planting strips of shading woodland next to streams is one way of mitigating rising temperature impacts. Researchers at DURESS have shown that planting native deciduous woodland in buffers (> 60 m) wider than commonly used for shading alone can also increase stream productivity, possibly enhancing resilience . Streams draining from deciduous woodland had more particles of leaf litter and so a greater density of macroinvetebrates . The impacts of climate change on streams could also be mitigated by reducing river pollution and improving water oxygenation . Click here to find more evidence about the multiple benefits to be gained from river and wetland restoration in the ‘Killer Facts’ compilation by Alister Driver, the National Biodiversity Manager at the Environment Agency.
Publications from BESS researchers:
- Spencer, T., et al., Where local matters: impacts of a major North Sea storm surge. Eos, Transactions American Geophysical Union, 2014. 95(30): p. 269-270.
- Spencer, T., et al., Southern North Sea storm surge event of 5 December 2013: Water levels, waves and coastal impacts. Earth-Science Reviews, 2015. 146: p. 120-145.
- Spencer, T., S.M. Brooks, and I. Moller, Floods: Storm-surge impact depends on setting. Nature, 2014. 505(7481): p. 26-26.
- Ford, H., et al., Soil stabilization linked to plant diversity and environmental context in coastal wetlands. Journal of Vegetation Science, 2016. 27(2): p. 259-268.
- Thomas, S.M., S.W. Griffiths, and S.J. Ormerod, Beyond cool: adapting upland streams for climate change using riparian woodlands. Global Change Biology, 2015. 22(1): p. 310-324.
- Verberk, W.C.E.P., et al., Field and laboratory studies reveal interacting effects of stream oxygenation and warming on aquatic ectotherms. Global Change Biology, 2016. 22(5): p. 1769-1778.
Prepared by Laura Harrison, Anna Middlemiss and Charlie Parkin.