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Natural Flood Management: Adopting ecosystem approaches to managing flood risk

Issued in publications on February 02, 2017.

Publication cover - Natural Flood Management - a study for Friends of the Earth, February 2017 - Cover image for Natural Flood Management - a study for Friends of the Earth, February 2017

Dredging alone will not contain flood risk

A new study, commissioned by Friends of the Earth, has found that natural land management techniques can significantly reduce flood risk but are being ignored by Irish policy-makers, despite evidence of their contribution to flood management around Europe. Natural Flood Management is a comprehensive approach to managing soil, wetlands, woodlands and floodplains along a river to retain and slow water at times of flood risk, reducing the speed and the peak of floodwaters compared to approaches that rely only on dredging and walls. The report, commissioned by Friends of the Earth, was launched at an event to mark World Wetlands Day in Dublin City Council.

Speaking at the launch, the report's author, ecologist and broadcaster, Anja Murray said:

"Natural flood management has gained recognition in many countries as a viable and cost effective approach to flood risk management, with extensive projects across Europe and further afield that have restored peat bogs, planted riparian woodlands, restored and created new wetlands, re-profiled rivers and their floodplains to hold back floodwaters.

"Natural flood management is virtually unknown in Ireland, despite the growing problem of widespread flood damage in recent years and forecasts of worse to come. There have been no trials or pilots of catchment based approaches to flood management in Ireland, despite the evidence that natural flood management can be an effective means of significantly reducing flood peak."

Welcoming the study's findings, Friends of the Earth Director, Oisin Coghlan said:

"Our climate is warming. Major flood events, currently expected once in every 50 years, are likely to occur once every 10 years by the second half of this century. We commissioned this study because we want Ireland to protect our communities as effectively as possible from the impacts of climate change. This study shows that building our flood resilience is about more than building walls and dredging rivers.

"It's hard to fathom why natural flood management techniques have been ignored in Ireland, despite the evidence of their contribution elsewhere. There has been a rush to expensive engineering responses in the face in understandable public anger. We hope this report will start a conversation about how to make our flood risk management more evidence-based, less narrowly focused, and ultimately more effective."

The report, "Natural Flood Management: Adopting ecosystem approaches to managing flood risk", analyses a whole-catchment approach to managing flood waters, through managing soil, wetlands, woodlands and floodplains to retain water strategically at times of flood risk. In recent decades urban and agricultural expansion and intensification, often onto historic floodplains, has resulted in the loss of capacity of floodplains to lessen the impact of flooding. Dredging continues on many river channels despite its tendency to exacerbate downstream flooding. Agricultural land use changes have reduced the permeability of soils and increased paving has reduced permeability in urban areas. Drainage and infilling of wetlands has resulted in loss of natural flood water storage basins.

Now, in response to increasing frequency of extreme rainfall events and consequent flooding that is happening because of climate change, Ireland needs to urgently develop and implement measures to reverse the decline in natural flood attenuation. Exclusive reliance on hard engineered flood protection works no longer represents the optimal approach to managing flood risk. Instead, combinations of catchment wide measures are now evidenced as good international practice.Measures include peat bog restoration, woodland creation, incentivised agricultural land use changes, floodplain restoration, wetland protection, and managed coastal realignment.

Case studies are presented of projects which have successfully implemented natural flood management, including ‘Slowing the Flow’ project in North Yorkshire and the ‘Room for Rivers’ in the Netherlands. The report finds that strong community involvement in addressing flood risk is crucial, as is the involvement of a range of interests and state agencies in recognition of the wider environmental co-benefits of natural flood management.

The study was commissioned by Friends of the Earth with a grant from the Irish Environmental Network.

The report is online here.

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One win. One Fight. One Favour.

Issued in the blog on January 27, 2017 at 01:06:00.

One win ...

Last week we asked you to contact your TDs to ask them to support the Bill to divest state funds from fossil fuels. Yesterday the Dáil voted 90 votes to 53 to progress the Fossil Fuel Divestment Bill to the next stage. This is a real victory for people power given the Government steadfastly opposed the Bill and Fianna Fáil were on the fence right up to decision time.



Read our press release reacting to the historic vote: "This is first real sign of leadership from Ireland on climate action".


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Historic step as Dáil backs Bill to divest state funds from fossil fuel companies

Issued in news on January 26, 2017 at 23:42:00.

Dail divest call TCD

Government Defeated as Dáil takes historic step towards fossil free future

Fossil Fuel Divestment Bill passes second stage 90-53

Friends of the Earth has hailed as "historic" today's Dáil vote to progress a Bill to pull taxpayer's money out of fossil fuel companies. The Fossil Fuel Divestment Bill passed Second Stage by 90 votes to 53. Fine Gael and the independents who support the minority government were the only TDs to vote against the Bill, which will now passes to a Dáil Committee. It was the seventh Dáil defeat for the government since it was formed last year.

Commenting on the landmark vote, Oisin Coghlan, Director of Friends of the Earth said:

"This is first real sign of leadership from Ireland on climate action.

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Fracking ban could stall unless we act now

Issued in the blog on January 24, 2017 at 14:54:00.


A couple of months ago, the Dáil unanimously agreed to consider a law to make fracking illegal in Ireland. There were celebrations!

But now supporters of fracking are trying to bog it down in endless Committee discussions. Please sign this petition to tell TDs to pass the law without delay.

Act Now Button


Tell TDs to ban fracking without delay.

The Oireachtas Committee considering the Bill want to know what the public thinks, and are asking you for your opinion on fracking and unconventional extraction of fossil fuels.

So, no time to rest on our laurels, we need to make sure TDs know the evidence is crystal clear: for our health, land, water and climate, fracking is bad news and should be banned.

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Tomorrow belongs to us

Issued in the blog on January 19, 2017 at 12:36:00.

RTE NINE News 2016-0118 OC

Tonight ...

The Dáil debates a Bill to divest taxpayers' money from fossil fuel companies, one of our top demands as part of Stop Climate Chaos.

And it hangs in the balance. We know all the smaller parties will support the Bill. The Government is likely to oppose it. Fianna Fáil are key and have been considering their position all week.

Supporters have been emailing TDs. But what would make the most difference now is a phone call. I called one of my TDs yesterday and it took less that 3 minutes.

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Don't despair this Friday, celebrate with us!

Issued in the blog on January 18, 2017 at 01:50:00.

This Friday 20th January Donald Trump will be inaugurated as the 45th President of the United States of America.

BUT....we have an alternative celebration for you, why not join us for a party and a film screening celebrating the people all around the world who are developing creative, positive solutions to our common challenges.

We are screening the award-winning French documentary Demain . I dare you to watch this 107 second trailer and not want to see more!


When: Friday 20th January
Where : Filmbase, Curved Street, Temple Bar, Dublin 2
Time: From 6pm for nibbles and BYOB, film 7pm sharp.
Tickets : Book your seat on eventbrite , tickets are just €5.

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'I feel like I got my future back ...'

Issued in news on December 30, 2016 at 02:54:00.

Takota Iron Eyes Interview

We know what the headlines from 2016 are and many are not good news for the environment.

But 2016 also saw a new storyline gathering pace, not from the board rooms and cabinet tables but from the sitting rooms and kitchen tables of people who aren't prepared to give up without a fight. It is the story of people power standing up to the corporate power of the fossil fuel industry, and winning.

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The Future is Bright ...

Issued in the blog on December 22, 2016 at 03:43:00.

Future is Bright postcard front v3

Yesterday was the shortest day of the year.

It was dark for 16 ½ hours.

Here in Ireland we just flicked a switch to put on the light. And got on with cooking, working, surfing, or relaxing by the Christmas tree.

For 1.2 billion people around the world that’s just not possible. They have no access to electricity. 1 in every 6 people on Earth. When the sun goes down, life gets more complicated: cooking, washing, reading, homework, socializing, safety are all curtailed by a lack of power.

We want to help change that in 2017.

Because the future is bright. The future will Run on Sun.

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Trinity has put itself on the right side of history, time for Government to follow suit

Issued in news on December 12, 2016 at 16:40:00.

TCD Fossil Free Provost - Trinity Fossil Free campaigners with the Provost, Dr Patrick Prendergast.
Trinity Fossil Free campaigners with the Provost, Dr Patrick Prendergast.

Stop Climate Chaos Coalition
News Release
4pm Monday 12th December 2016

Trinity College's Decision to Divest from Fossil Fuels an "Historic Step"

Victorious student campaigners join call for Government to take taxpayers' money out of fossil fuels

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Frack free November, Divestment December?

Issued in the blog on December 09, 2016 at 14:32:00.

TCD Fossil Free Students

First up, the film Atlantic was RTE One last night. So it's now available to watch on RTE Player. It's great film from the director of The Pipe about three small fishing communities, in Ireland, Norway and Canada, as they struggle to maintain their way of life in the face of mounting economic and ecological challenges. Also, the last episode of David Attenborough's breathtaking Planet Earth II is on BBC One Sunday at 8pm.

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