Flooding is something that people have to deal with on a year-long basis. In some parts of the world, like India, there is a specific season of heavy rains and flooding, called the Monsoon Season; agriculture and day-to-day life is specially adapted to the specifics of this season. In other areas, floods are rare, like Hurricane Irene that swept through the Caribbean all the way up to the Northeastern United States in August, catching people by surprise and causing enormous damage. As climate change increases the frequency and intensity of these flooding events, people are forced to come up with creative ideas to adapt to the coming floods and try and mitigate their effects. Around the world, people are accepting this challenge and adopting innovative techniques particular to their region.
In parts of Asia, it is well known that Mangrove trees and other vegetation planted along the coast provide protection against tropical storms and tsunamis. Forested wetlands provide a line of defense to coastal populations by reducing the impact of the wind and water of storms that batter homes and buildings, and the roots hold the sediment of the shore in place, reducing coastline erosion. To celebrate Earth Day 2010, the Timberland boot brand sponsored a day of planting mangrove trees in the Kuala Selangor Nature Park in Malaysia. This video shows a Timberland employee – and expert Mangrove planter – explaining the best way to plant the trees.
The United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change Local Coping Strategies Database has a case study on “Preparing for Floods in Northeastern Thailand.” The case study explores ways that some Thai fishermen and rice farmers have adapted to the flooding of the Songkhram River, an important branch of the Mekong River.
People who earn their living through fishing have developed a wide range of equipment that is appropriate to the conditions in the rivers and other wetlands. For example, when the water level is high, they use traps or fishing hooks. When it is low, they use mong and uan tap taling, a type of net that is anchored along the riverbank. People have adapted rice farming for different seasons. In years past, people practiced na pree, which is planning during the wet season. After repeated floods, they changed to practive na prang…planting during the dry season.
In the case of these Thai men and women, they have adopted special practices in order to adapt to the flooding they know is going to occur. In Malaysia, the Mangroves were planted as a preventative measure for future flooding.
On Friday, guest blogger Richard Dolesh, Chief of Public Policy for the National Recreation and Park Association, will tell you about one way the Dutch are adapting to floods: through floodable public parks, and his idea that the United States should adopt a similar system.
What has your experience with flooding been? Are there any innovations you and your region are making in adaptation and mitigation techniques?