The tidal Thames floodplain covers 350 sq km, including over £200 billion current property value, eight power stations and 400 schools (TE2100 Plan).
Well designed and managed green spaces can help protect these assets from coastal and fluvial flooding.
Saltmarshes provide a natural barrier in front of built defences – in Essex 370 km of 440 km seawalls rely on fronting saltmarshes to maintain flood defences. Additionally, saltmarshes save money – seawalls with no saltmarsh are 10 times more expensive to maintain than those with 60 m of fronting saltmarsh.
An award winning (CIEEM 2014 award for “NGO Impact”) habitat restoration project at Great Bells Farm on the Isle of Sheppey is also used as a “green reservoir” to protect neighbouring agricultural land from flooding in times of high rainfall.
These services are increasingly valuable to help adapt to the impacts of climate change, such as rising sea levels and changing seasonal rainfall – with benefits to both wildlife and people.