Clare Lawson, The Open University
The natural capital of floodplains as a function of land use.
Report now available - download here.
From the authors:
"Floodplains occupy only 5% of the land area in the UK, yet deliver disproportionately for people in terms of flooding and nutrient retention. The lack of semi natural habitats and poor functionality in floodplains reduces our resilience to floods and drought, reduces the abundance of pollinating insects and natural pest control agents, and reduces the potential for carbon sequestration and water quality improvements."
Floodplains deliver a disproportionately large amount of natural capital when compared to their relative land coverage. In England they cover approximately 5% of the land area, yet deliver ecosystem services including agricultural productivity, flood-alleviation, carbon storage and nutrient cycling. Therefore, the sustainable management of these areas offers good return on investment.
However clear decision making with respect to land-use on floodplains needs to be evidence based and whilst there is a considerable literature on floodplains, this information requires better integration and to be linked to land-use choices in order to guide policymakers and land managers. For example, if you change from arable landuse to a floodplain meadow, what ecosystem service benefits will you gain, and how do you manage the meadow in order to ensure maximum delivery of natural capital? Land use and management choices will influence the extent of natural capital that can be delivered at any particular location.
This proposal will review the existing evidence, develop a matrix to inform land-use choices and then distil the key information into a briefing document.
Presentation introducing project ideas