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Rivers are dynamic by nature as they carve their own course, distribute sediments and spill onto flood plains during flood events. Classic flood management measures restrict river courses to protect property from flooding, often by the straightening them and establishing dykes. Though these actions protect against flooding, if there is severe water level rise, damages can be magnified if the flooding overruns the dykes, or if the retaining structures break under pressure.
Ecological river restoration involves ecological, spatial and physical management practices to return a river back (or close) to its natural state. Common restoration techniques include reconnecting rivers with floodplains, reestablishment of the river’s meandering form with no barriers along its banks, and stabilizing surrounding soil to reduce sedimentation and erosion. Restored rivers have increased water retention capacity due to their ability to naturally expand their banks and flood onto floodplains, thus making them more effective for flood risk management. Additionally, they support biodiversity and healthy ecosystems, providing a host of ecosystem services, for example recreational activities. This method of ‘working with nature’ is a key strategy for severe flood management and climate change adaptation.