Posted by: waterworks | November 14, 2007

6. When birds cause floods

One factor that greatly exacerbated flooding in England during June and July 2007 was the need to avoid disturbing nesting birds.  This prevented widespread clearance of vegetation from river and drainage channels between April and July.  Spring’s prolific growth of vegetation – thanks to unusually high temperatures – severely reduced the ability of rivers and waterways to carry away excessive rainwater, especially in urban areas.  Meanwhile, prospective nest-builders were quick to spot the pukka egg-laying potential of lush vegetation with a waterside aspect.  Once colonised by birds, the vegetation could not always be legally removed.  Country Land and Business Association President David Fursdon has gone on record as saying that “where we are prevented, under a variety of regulations including water level management plans, from cleaning out ditches and rivers in case we disturb nesting birds, then we are clearly prejudicing our ability to manage summer flooding.” Professor David Crichton, a renowned flood expert, recently fingered vegetation growth and nesting birds as his top two culprits for summer 2007 floods.

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