Flood plain drainage blamed for severity of Eastern Europe floods
Conservationists believe that the draining of ancient flood plains and deforestation have aggravated current flooding across Eastern Europe.
As floodwaters continued to rise across Ukraine, Hungary and Romania, WWF called for rivers to be allowed to flow naturally to avoid the severity currently experienced. In Ukraine alone, an estimated 33,000 houses have been flooded in 240 towns and villages in the Trans-Carpathian region. “In Ukraine and in Hungary natural flood plains have been drained for agriculture, where there was none before, seriously aggravating the flooding,” a WWF European Freshwater Programme spokesperson told edie. Instead floodplains that have often been cut off from rivers by dykes or drained for agricultural use should be restored to protect people and settlements downstream, WWF says.
“In Romania, deforestation in the Carpathian mountains has aggravated flooding downstream as greater erosion is caused by removing forests that normally soak up melting,” the spokesperson said. “In Hungary we have seen many cases of increased building on flood plains”, she continued, adding that no new buildings should be allowed in floodplains.
“Simply calling for more or higher dykes is the wrong answer,” said Georg Rast from WWF Floodplain Institute in Germany. “The only long term solution is to work with nature rather than against it, and allow water to be retained in the floodplains without putting surrounding human settlements at risk.”