Environmental Aspects of Integrated Flood Management

 Brief description
 Brochure on Environmental Aspects of Integrated Flood Management
 Expert Group Meeting on 6-7 October 2005
 Numerous experts involved


Brief description

Flood and floodplain management play important roles in protecting people and socio-economic development. Until recently, flood control and protection have been engineering-centred, with little or no consideration being given to the social, cultural and environmental effects of the selected strategy, nor to long-term economic concerns. They have largely relied on structural solutions (e.g., embankments, bypass channels, dams and reservoirs, etc.), which have unfortunately changed flow regimes, fixed river shape or have separated river channels from their flood plains, resulting in loss of habitats, biological diversity and productivity. During the past half century, flood control and protection have slowly moved from an emphasis on structures toward incorporating complementary non-structural measures such as flood forecasting and land use regulations.

The adverse impacts of some of these structural measures and the growing concern for sustainable development have highlighted the need to address the negative consequences of flood control and protection measures on the environment. Over the past couple of decades, increasing environmental concern for sustainable development has facilitated a shift from Flood control towards Flood management. It is now recognized that floods are a natural phenomenon, which determine the natural regime of a river; and that any structural interventions have impacts on the natural environment, which can cause environmental degradation and impair services provided by ecosystems. 


Brochure on Environmental Aspects of Integrated Flood Management

Different disciplinary groups, such as environmental scientists, ecologists, flood managers and hydrologists, approach sustainable development from different perspectives. Some of the underlying causes that make it difficult to integrate the growing concern regarding environmental degradation into sound flood management practices revolve around communication gaps; and understanding varying perspectives to sustainable development. There are differences in the terminology used by various disciplines and a lack of appreciation for the issues raised by the different groups. Effective communication and understanding between the various stakeholders and experts are therefore vital.

The publication on Environmental Aspects of IFM has been developed as part of Flood Management Policy Series. This publication is primarily directed to flood managers, to enable them to understand the range of environmental issues involved in flood management. At the same time, it provides useful information for policy makers, environmental groups, NGOs and communities, to help them to understand flood risks in relation to environmental concerns and sustainable development. It is aimed at improving communication and understanding between different disciplines, stakeholders and experts. Therefore, it avoids highly technical details. The facts are based on existing scientific knowledge and referenced.

It is recognized that there are no universal solutions for environmentally friendly flood management practices. It is crucial to adopt practices that suit particular circumstances in a given hydro-climatic, topographical and socio-economic setting in a basin. Therefore, this publication does not attempt to be a guideline or manual prescribing procedures or steps. Rather, it provides a rational and balanced way of addressing environmental issues in flood management. The publication focuses on environmental issues directly related to flood management and takes water pollution issues out of the scope for simplicity and understanding, by assuming that there are no water quality problems due to anthropogenic pollution. Most of the concepts would also hold for other, less common channel types.

The publication looks at how environmental considerations can be appropriately incorporated in flood management practices and discusses issues related to:

  Balancing development imperatives and flood risks in relation to sustainable
  Understanding hydrological, morphological and ecological concepts relevant to
    floodplain processes;
  Recognizing environmental impacts of flood management measures;
  Resolving conflicting objectives and situations through trade-offs among various
  Adopting environmentally friendly flood management approaches; and
  Living and working with nature.

Download: Environmental Aspects of Integrated Flood Management (PDF) 
                            English  (3.3MB), French (1.2MB), Spanish (1.3MB), Japanese (1.5MB; translated by JICE)


Expert Group Meeting on 6-7 October 2005

The need for environmental considerations in flood management brought experts of Ecology, Eco-hydrology and Hydrology together from various regions of the world to WMO secretariat on 6-7 October 2005. The Expert Group addressed issues such as balancing development rights, flood risks and environmental considerations; how flood management practitioners can appreciate the roles of ecosystem services; and how environment friendly flood management measures can be implemented.

Expert Group

Colin Creighton  Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO), Australia
Claudio Meier  Universidad de Concepci, ChileCurrently at University of Montana, USAMember of Eco-hydraulic division, International Association of Hydraulic Engineering and Research (IAHR)
Ognjen Bonacci  University of Split, Croatia
Mogens Dyhr-Nielsen  UNEP Collaborating Centre on Water and Environment (UCC-Water), Denmark
Fabrice Renaud  The United Nations University Institute for Environment and Human Security (UNU-EHS), Germany
Videh Upadhyay  Advocate, Supreme Court of India, India
Maria-Franca Norese  Politecnico di Torino,  Italy
Mike Acreman  CEH Wallingford, UK
Peter Goodwin  University of Idaho, USAMember of Eco-hydraulic division, International Association of Hydraulic Engineering and Research (IAHR)
Ania Grobicki  Independent consultant, WMO



Numerous experts involved

The draft versions of the publication were circulated to a number of experts and posted on the website and valuable comments have been provided by a number of individuals, most importantly by:

Christopher George (IAHR, Spain), Francesca Bernardini (UNECE, Switzerland), Futoshi Nakamura (Hokkaido University, Japan), Ger Bergkamp (IUCN, Switzerland), Jacques Ganoulis (Aristotle University of Thessaloniki, Greece), Keigo Nakamura (PWRI, Japan), Kevin Coulton (Watershed Concepts, USA), Soontak Lee (Yeungnam University, Republic of Korea); Toshiharu Kojiri (Kyoto University, Japan), Rainer Enderlein (UNECE, Switzerland), Rajib Shaw (Kyoto University, Japan), Valerio Vendegna (Universita degli studi di Pavia, Italy), Yukihiro Shimatani (Kyushu University, Japan) and members of the International Hydrologic Environmental Society (Republic of Korea).

In addition, the publication was peer reviewed by the following experts:

Paolo Burlando 

Swiss Federal Institute of Technology Zurich, Switzerland) from a hydrological perspective 

Klement Tockner 

Swiss Federal Institute of Aquatic Science and Technology, Switzerland) from an ecological perspective 



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