Geographers say sterile gardens raise risk of flooding

LJMU geographers are backing plans to incentivise householders to keep their gardens green – and not pave them over.

Eco-friendly gardeners should be given a cut in their council tax, a study has recommended, as research shows cities may have lost as much as 50% of their green garden space over the past two decades.

Paving, plastic grass, decking and other artificial surfaces are not only affecting plant and animal diversity but heightening risks of flooding and temperature rises.

“Green spaces reduce flooding, not least because the water can soak in rather than run across the surface” explained Dr Sarah Percival and Dr Jon Dick of LJMU’s School of Biological and Environmental Sciences.

“The increase in impermeable surfaces such as concrete in urban areas is reducing the area available to soak up rainwater and making it more likely that water will pool or enter the drainage system.”

And they said that changing weather patterns are heightening risk year by year.

“Climate change is prompting more rainfall in shorter time periods. The ground in many areas is already struggling to soak it up, as all soil has a natural saturation point. The less land that is available to absorb that water, the higher the chance of increased flooding and sewage releases.

“Incentivization is a good thing, and in terms of economic and environmental costs of increased flooding or sewage releases, the relative impact of reductions in funding are likely to be small.”

The study from the University of Sheffield has suggested policymakers should offer incentives such as council tax or water bill discounts to encourage gardeners to use environmentally sensitive techniques to help combat climate breakdown.


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