How does a nature-based solution for flood control compare to a technical solution? Case study evidence from Belgium

F Turkelboom, R Demeyer, L Vranken, P De Becker, F Raymaekers, L De Smet

Research output: Contribution to journalA1: Web of Science-article


The strategy of reconnecting rivers with their floodplains currently gains popularity because it not only harnesses natural capacities of floodplains but also increases social co-benefits and biodiversity. In this paper, we present an example of a successfully implemented nature-based solution (NBS) in the Dijle valley in the centre of Belgium. The research objective is to retrospectively assess cost and benefit differences between a technical solution (storm basins) and an alternative NBS, here the restoration of the alluvial floodplain. The method is a comparative social cost-benefit analysis. The case study analysis reveals similar flood security, lower costs, more ecosystem services benefits and higher biodiversity values associated with the NBS option in comparison to the technical alternative. However, the business case for working with NBS depends substantially on the spatial and socio-ecological context. Chances for successful NBS implementation increase in conditions of sufficient space to retain flood water, when flood water is of sufficient quality, and when economic activity and housing in the floodplain is limited.
Original languageEnglish
Issue number8
Pages (from-to)1431-1445
Number of pages15
Publication statusPublished - 11-May-2021

Thematic List 2020

  • Nature & society
  • Water
  • Protected nature
  • Climate

Thematic list

  • Water management
  • Ecosystem services
  • Catchment areas


  • water management
  • economics of nature, forest and biodiversity policy

Geographic list

  • Dyle

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