As the floods in Thailand have reached record levels, they leave behind a trail of destruction to people, infrastructure and the environment. The flooding has caused around 400 deaths so far and has affected about 8.2 million people in 60 of Thailand’s 77 provinces. Some 200,000 hectares of farmland have been submerged and 1,000 factories have been inundated. The economic losses are estimated to be above US$ 3 billion. But nature itself can help control the destruction caused by such disasters.
Ecosystems, such as floodplains, wetlands and mangroves, provide the natural infrastructure needed to help control destruction and heavy erosion caused by flooding.
Natural floodplains can be maintained through sound land planning and management, as they are important in storing water during floods and recharging groundwater reserves. Healthy wetlands and natural river channels can buffer the impact of large floods, by slowing the flow of water and storing water to lower flood peaks.
Cities concentrate the effects of flooding as they contain paved surfaces and narrow streets that channel water and restrict drainage into the ground. And often it is the most vulnerable who face the challenges of escaping floods and rebuilding their lives following destruction.
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