Environment Agency publishes report on Natural Flood Management evidence base
For a while now, local projects have been making our landscapes more flood resilient at a local level, and showing that working with natural processes really can help to reduce flooding. Until now however, there has been no national platform bringing us all together to share and embed Natural Flood Management as a national discipline. On the 31st of October at the CIWEM conference, the Environment Agency launched their much anticipated ‘Working with Natural Processes’ (WwNP) report, which brings together all our evidence and expertise into one easily accessible national resource.
The WwNP documents are an invaluable resource for flood risk managers and those advocating and implementing Natural Flood Management (NFM). The reports provide an in-depth review of the existing evidence for NFM; providing summaries of the main types of NFM; key literature; the level of confidence in each NFM approach, and identifying the gaps in our knowledge. The report is accompanied by interactive maps for targeting NFM and an extensive selection (65!) of case studies throughout the country.
The good news is that an analysis of vast wealth of existing research reveals that NFM can definitely help to reduce flood risk, particularly for smaller magnitude floods in small to medium sized catchments. The report also shows that NFM provides multiple additional benefits both to the environment (e.g. habitat creation, water quality improvements, climate regulation), and to society, through reduced flood risk, increased access to green space, creating a healthier environment etc.
Importantly, the knowledge gaps that were identified, such as how NFM can mitigate extreme flood events or how it can provide climate change resilience, will shape future research projects, which will continue to feed into the evidence base for NFM. In fact, the Environment Agency and the Natural Environment Research Council have put together a £3.4m research call to fund projects that contribute to further understanding of NFM. One of the key areas where further evidence is needed is the use of NFM in lowland catchments, which the SFI project is helping to provide.
The report offers a range of “Top tips” for utilising NFM, all of which are at the core of the work that we do at the Sussex Flow Initiative :-
We already work closely in partnership with the Environment Agency on the SFI project, but we look forward to working with them more closely to embed NFM in all Flood Risk Management projects and strategies.
The full report and accompanying resources can be accessed here