Building with Nature

New study on flood benefits alongside other benefits

03 July 2018 - Published by Eric Boessenkool
Increased river flood frequency is considered a major risk under climate change. Protecting vulnerable communities is, therefore, a key public policy objective. Natural flood management measures (NFM) are increasingly discussed as cost-effective means for providing flood regulation. The Journal of Flood Risk Management recently published a study that places flood benefits alongside other benefits.

This study provides a cost-benefit analysis of the impacts of afforestation on peak river flows under UKCP09 climate change projections, and on additional ecosystem services in a rural catchment in Scotland. The authors find significant positive net present values (NPV) for all alternatives considered. However, benefits are dominated by ecosystem services other than flood regulation, with values related to climate regulation, aesthetic appeal, recreation and water quality contributing to a high positive NPV.

The investment in riparian woodland under low and central climate change scenarios delivers a positive NPV alone when considering flood regulation benefits only. The case study suggests that afforestation as a sole NFM measure provides a positive NPV only in some cases but highlights the importance of identifying and quantifying additional ecosystem co-benefits.

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