Restoring floodplains and wetlands is a cost-effective way to improve climate resilience.
That’s the verdict from the European Environment Agency (EEA), which says this lowers the amount of financial investment needed to defend against damaging floods and offers a range of other environmental and socioeconomic benefits.
Around 20% of European cities are vulnerable to river floods, the frequency and intensity of which are projected to increase over the coming decades due to climate change, posing an increased risk to the economy, infrastructure and human health.
The EEA says while damming rivers and building levees can significantly help reduce the risk of flooding, this is often expensive and can damage local water absorption capacity, wildlife, fish and river ecosystems.
They can also increase the risk of floods further downstream.
The report suggests nature-based solutions such as maintaining floodplains and wetlands can actually provide benefits beyond flood protection, such as carbon sequestration though being absorbed by plants and peat.