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Watery land: the management of lowland floodplains in England

Watery land: the management of lowland floodplains in England

Morris, Joe, Posthumus, Helena, Hess, Tim, Gowing, David and Rouquette, Jim (2009) Watery land: the management of lowland floodplains in England. In: Winter, Michael and Lobley, Matt, (eds.) What is land for?: The Food, Fuel and Climate Change Debate. Earthscan Publications Ltd., London, UK, pp. 135-166. ISBN 9781844077205

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Lowland floodplains, deliver a range of benefits, both market and non-market goods and services, to society. Though some of these benefits can be delivered simultaneously (in synergy), other benefits tend to conflict with each other and are either exclusive or have to be compromised. The management of lowland floodplains is clearly a product of policy interventions that have promoted particular objectives at different times. Once the recipient of large scale public investments in agricultural
flood defence and drainage, lowland floodplains are now recognised as providing a range of valued ecosystems goods and services, including water regulation, carbon sequestration, landscapes and wildlife, and recreation and amenity. As we argue here,these latter interests are finding expression in new policy initiatives which attempt to integrate land and water management in flood prone areas, such as for example Defra’s Making Space for Water and Catchment Sensitive Farming.
The example of the Beckingham Marshes illustrates the potential advantage of an ecosystem framework for assessing land and water management options. It is clear that the type of goods and services rendered by floodplains reflect dominant stakeholder interests and influences, as shaped by prevailing incentives and property rights and entitlements. An ecosystems approach could help to reinforce the value and importance of non-market goods and services provided by floodplains, with policies that target particularly outcomes independently of agriculture.
However, using an ecosystems framework requires a much more integrated, joined-up approach to natural resource management. This may imply a restructuring of the current institutional framework as policies and entitlements tend to focus on one or two ecosystem functions only. New disaggregated property regimes may be required whose various elements explicitly refer to particular uses and services, giving separate entitlements, possibly at different time of year, to different services such as agricultural use, flood storage, conservation or public access. In this respect, clear insights are required into both the demand for and supply side of ecosystem services, at present and in the future.
This begs answers to the questions raised in the Great Land Use Debate (RELU, 2008b), namely: what is land for, who should decide, and what is the best way of ensuring that the future stock of land and water resources, including those in floodplains, provides the diverse flows of services required to meet future needs?

Item Type: Book Section
Additional Information: Chapter 6, in Part I - New Uses of Land: Technologies, Policies, Tools and Capacities.
Uncontrolled Keywords: rural land use, floodplains, flood risk management, agriculture, ecosystem services, policy
Subjects: S Agriculture > S Agriculture (General)
Faculty / School / Research Centre / Research Group: Faculty of Engineering & Science > Natural Resources Institute > Livelihoods & Institutions Department
Faculty of Engineering & Science > Natural Resources Institute
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Last Modified: 11 Nov 2011 12:06

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