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Flood risk cities should think ecologically

Lessons from the natural world could help major cities adapt to the growing threat of flooding, according to leading researchers in urban resilience.

Professor Hisham Elkadi, Dean of the School of the Built Environment at the University of Salford, told delegates at the Flood Disaster Management Conference that an ecological solution is the key to mitigating the impact of climate change.

Attendees at the conference, organised by Salford Professional Development, heard that established flood defence methods are no longer fit for purpose as the frequency and severity of flood incidents increases.

 “Severe incidents are increasing both in pace and in force, so they are happening faster and they are hitting us harder,” said Professor Elkadi.

“We are on the threshold of needing to do something different, many of our cities are vulnerable and their defences are not working as they should. When it comes to climate change, we cannot have business as usual.”

Outlining the concept behind the ecological method, Professor Elkadi said a more flexible approach to flooding is needed alongside traditional engineering solutions.

“The idea of resilience is that you expect things to continue as normal under stress, but an ecological system does not work like that,” he said.

“An ecological system evolves with stress and works with it and that is what we are proposing with towns and cities.

“The main problem caused by flooding is disruption to connections, for example between houses and businesses. An ecological system would maintain these connections even when there is flooding, it creates a city than can accept and take in water. The water can even become a feature.

“It’s about integrating the built environment with social, economic and infrastructure systems to create an ecological approach.”

The Unvierstiy of Salford’s School of the Built Environment is a world leader in research on ecological approaches to flooding. Working on projects in Australia, Sri Lanka, Oman and Malaysia the school is helping to improve global understanding about the best way to mitigate against climate change.

Working with academics at the School of the Built Environment, Salford Professional Development delivers a comprehensive portfolio of conferences and training courses.

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1 Comment

One thought on “Flood risk cities should think ecologically

  1. Siriol Hogg says:

    Considering the amount of flooding that is appearing with such frequency in Lancashire ( 800 homes affecting approximately 2,400 men, women children and pensioners) in 2017, many more in 2015,16 , I wonder that Salford University isn’t considering working with its own flooded communities.
    In 2017, the flooded of Thornton, Galgate and Preesall et al, received no financial aid from the government whatsoever. They had to rely on charity and /or their community for support and help.
    Churchtown Flood Action Group

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