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European strategies for sustainable flood plain management to reduce flood risk

Congress: 2008
Author(s): Mariele Evers, Hallvard Berg
Associate Professor Mariele Evers, Leuphana University of Lüneburg, Institute of Environmental Strategies, Herbert-Meyer-Str. 7, 29556 Suderburg/Lüneburg, GERMANY, email: evers@uni-lueneburg; phone: +49 4131 6779235 Hallvard Berg (MSc), senior adviser,

Keyword(s): flood plain managemet, reduction of flood risk, European strategies
AbstractIntroduction: Floodplains are manifold landscapes where various requirements with an increasing competition can be observed. The loss of natural floodplains through urban development, flood de- fence, land drainage and agricultural improvements has led to a dramatic decline in habitats and wild-life. Recent major flooding events in Europe - between 1998 and 2004, Europe suffered over 100 ma-jor damaging floods, including the catastrophic floods along the Danube and Elbe Rivers in summer 2002 - have raised awareness of the need to restore and manage our floodplains for – inter alia – de-crease flood risks. One of the key hydrological functions of floodplains is that of floodwater detention. Objective: In Europe several activities were started to reduce the risk of flooding. The most important piece of recent legislations that affects the restoration and conservation of floodplains is the European Water Framework Directive (WFD), although it does not explicitly address natural flood defence. Indirectly, however, the issue of flood management in included, since the Directive requires that no further deterioration of the river system is to be allowed. Furthermore the European Commission pro-posed a Directive on the assessment and management of floods which is supposed to be adopted in 2007. This legal framework will be adapted to the WFD structures and timelines. With the Floods Directive a three-stage process is proposed: 1. preliminary flood risk assessment 2. the development of flood hazard maps and flood risk maps and finally 3. flood risk management plans which should include inter alia protection measures such as re-storing flood plains and wetlands. Besides these legal instruments on European level other tools were developed and implemented in several European countries. There are approaches like Guidelines for land use in flood prone areas in Norway, a Strategic Flood Risk Assessment (SFRA) for England and Wales or the Act to Improve Preventive Flood Control, which was implemented in 2005 in Germany. Methods: An evaluation of different approaches of integrated flood risk management was conducted in line with a European project called FLOWS. Results and conclusion: The different characters and pros and cons of different approaches towards a coherent development and land use planning will be discussed in the paper. A special focal point will be the possible synergies between European regulations in water, flood and floodplain management towards a sustainable management to reduce flood risk. There is a great potential for coherent ap-proaches – current implementations are still poor.
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