flooded land beside houses oxford

We can’t win the war against water

Just as the first proof copy of our new book, The Climate Change Garden, lands on the doormat, I received a press release that the Environment Agency has launched a major long-term strategy to tackle flooding and coastal change. The Environment Agency is preparing for a potential 4°C rise in global temperature and urgent action is needed to tackle more frequent, intense flooding and sea level rise.

The number of people who could be affected by flooding in the UK is staggering – who knew that more than 5 million people in England alone are at risk from flooding and coastal erosion. Yet only a third of people who live in areas at risk of flooding believe their property is at risk. Two-thirds of properties in England are served by infrastructure in areas at risk of flooding and for every person who suffers flooding, around 16 more are affected by loss of services such as power, transport and telecommunications.  That’s a significant proportion of the population. We really need to be more aware of flood risk.

There’s going to be more money put into education. Property owners are going to be encouraged to build back better after a flood. As well as the houses, that’s a lot of gardens that could be flooded. Do you know what to do to repair flood damage in the garden or how to make your garden more climate change resilient?

standing water after heavy rain
Standing water floods a grassy area in the garden after days of heavy rain

Kim and I have written our Climate Change Garden book is because we don’t think people realise what’s ahead. Too many people have a head in the sand approach. It won’t happen, or if happens it won’t be in my life time. May be if we recycle more plastic and cycle to work we’ll stop climate change. No we won’t. Climate change is happening already, so all we can hope is that the climate change measures that countries have been implementing over the last decade will keep the temperature increases down to moderate levels of just a degree or two. But the Environment Agency is planning for a 4°C rise in temperatures  – that’s massive, the worst-case scenario. Not only will we have to prepare for storms, flood waters, rising sea levels, but droughts and water shortages too.

What about our book? It’s not about what you can do to stop climate change. It’s what you can do to prepare your green space for climate change.  It’s not going to be gardening as we know it, we are going to have to change and adapt. Storms, torrential rains and strong winds are happening now. We give you ideas for making your garden more resilient in the face of extreme weather, plus ways of planning for future climate changes. And it’s not just excess water. We’ve written about too little rain, coping with droughts, heavy snowfall, late frost, how it will affect your veg plots, orchards and flower gardens and there are loads of ideas for making your green spaces more climate change resilient.

Featured photo Floods threaten houses in Oxford Ecoscene / Nick Hawkes

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