Is Riparian Vegetation can dissipate the intensity of Flood??

By: Ume Rubab


The Riparian Vegetation is the green ribbon of life along the rivers and downstream. Plants habitats and communities along the river margins and banks are called Riparian vegetation, characterized by the hydrophilic plants. The word “Riparian” is derived from Latin Ripa meaning “River bank”. It is full with lush green grasses, forbs and trees. It is also called fringing vegetation.

The Riparian Vegetation  consists of three zone. Zone I- contains water-loving plants that help to stabilize streambanks and promote water recharge. Zone II- contains species of shrubs, trees and moisture-loving grasses and forbs. Zone III- contains mixture of riparian species and edge-loving species. The streambed or riverbed zone of the riparian area is closely linked to Zone I. Zone I provides fallen limbs, tree roots that in turn slow water flow, reducing erosional processes associated with increased flow and flooding.

The Riparian vegetation plays important role in strengthening river bank, capturing the sediments, filtering out pollutants, utilizing excess nutrients, providing shades for rivers, providing shelter and food for wildlife, slowing runoff and reducing flood damage and controlling temperature and light. Besides these role how it acts as flood buffers?

As we known “Trees serve to stabilize the soil and restrict sediment deposition during extreme rain events” Said Imran Khalid, a water expert at WWP-Pakistan. Riparian Vegetation can slow flood waters. These areas serve as number of beneficial functions for flood control. It reduces the force, height and volume of flood-waters by allowing them to spread out horizontally and harmlessly across the floodplain. In addition, trees, shrubs and herbaceous plants in riparian areas use large amounts of water in transpiration which in effect, transfer flood waters to the atmosphere.

Healthy Riparian areas are able to absorb, hold and use much of the water that flows off from healthy upland areas. Several gallons per acre of water are used by plants each day, thereby drying the soil and making more room in the “Soil sponge” for flood-waters. The root system of these vegetation keep pores of soil open so that two or three times more water can infiltrate the soil compared to lands use for cultivation or grazing.

In Pakistan, the onset of 2022 monsoon brought heavy rains. Pakistan Federal Minister Sherry Rehman said- The  extreme high level of rain was a result of “ monster monsoon cycles” Deforestation in Pakistan also been a factor worsening the floods. It is important to improve the health of riparian vegetation along the rivers in Pakistan.

In conclusion, that Riparian Vegetation can somehow dissipate the intensity of floods. So we should restore the riparian vegetation which is drastically affected by human activities. We should make riparian vegetation more visible and appreciated in society and policies. In my point of view, we should improve our knowledge of the social dimensions of riparian vegetation. Because these are  natural buffers to reduce catastrophic floods.

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