Soft engineering does not involve building artificial structures, but takes a more sustainable and natural approach to managing the potential for river flooding. It is often a low cost option. Each approach has its advantages and disadvantages.
Flood warnings and preparation
The environmental agency monitors rivers and issues warnings via newspapers, TV, radio and the internet when they are likely to flood so people can prepare.
People have time to try to protect their properties, eg with sandbags.
Many possessions can be saved, resulting in fewer insurance claims.
Some people may not be able to access the warnings.
Flash floods may happen too quickly for a warning to be effective.
They do not stop land from flooding - they just warn people that a flood is likely.
Allowing only certain land uses on the floodplain reduces the risk of flooding to houses and more important buildings.
More expensive buildings/land uses are further away from the river, so have a reduced flood risk .
Less damage is caused, leading to fewer insurance claims.
Not always possible to change existing land uses.
Planners have to decide what type of flood to plan for.
Afforestation involves planting trees in the river valley to intercept rain water and reduce surface run-off.
Provides economic benefits, ie forestry.
Provides new ecological habitats.
Allows some parts of a river valley to flood naturally.