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Floodplains: a natural system to preserve and restore


Floods are one of the most costly natural disasters and, in parts of Europe, climate change is anticipated to increase the flood risk. Floodplains cover 7% of European continental area and up to 30% of its terrestrial Natura 2000 site area; however, studies have shown that 70-90% of floodplains has been environmentally degraded. Therefore, developing strategies for managing flood risks is an important challenge. 

This report provides an overview of the different aspects of floodplain management. More specifically the report shows how natural and restored floodplains provide an alternative to structural measures to handle the increased risk of flooding due to climate change. At the same time, floodplain restoration supports achieving higher quality ecosystem services like improved water quality, improved conditions for biodiversity conservation and improved recreational value. Moreover, it contributes to the achievement multiple EU policy objectives, in particular in the context of the Water Framework, Floods, Habitats and Birds Directives. 

In the first chapter global and European policy framework covering floodplains are described. In Chapter 2, the basic characteristics of the floodplain-river system are provided and a description is given of how land use and populations in floodplains are distributed among the 33 EEA member countries and six cooperating countries. In Chapter 3, some of the key ecosystem services provided by floodplains are described, together with approaches to river and floodplain restoration and examples of successful restoration projects. In Chapter 4, the conditions for successful implementation are discussed.

Reference information

EEA website

Published in Climate-ADAPT Mar 04 2020   -   Last Modified in Climate-ADAPT Nov 01 2022

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