iCASP works with academics at University of Leeds to shape new NFM Manual

New guidance to drive the implementation of natural flood management (NFM) has just been published by CIRIA working with Mott MacDonald.

The manual will provide a road map for nature based solutions project setting out the key stages of delivery from initiating a scheme and understanding the interests of local people to selecting, designing and constructing the interventions as well as monitoring and managing their performance.

Our team contributed to developing the manual to help us all to take action together to address nature and climate emergencies.

Mark Trigg, Associate Professor of Water Risk at University of Leeds, said: “It was a pleasure leading the iCASP input to the writing of the new national NFM guidance.

“iCASP is a unique project in the University and draws together a wide range of expertise in water and the environment. This expertise includes cutting-edge research into NFM issues but is also grounded in partnerships with practitioners who are applying NFM already. This experience allowed us to help with the balance between the scientific aspects of the new manual as well as the practicalities of its application.

“Whilst there are still plenty of aspects of NFM that remain to be studied as we go forward, the manual sets out a comprehensive guide to what we currently know and how to apply that knowledge.”

Natural solutions include restoring bends in rivers, changing how land is managed so soil can absorb more water, floodplain restoration, installing leaky dams, planting trees along rivers, catchment woodland and offline storage areas.

NFM doesn’t have to work in isolation but works best when part of a network of measures that include engineered solutions such as flood defence scheme and improved flood forecasting measures alongside education about flood risk.

Emma Wren, Natural Flood Management lead at Mott MacDonald, said: We try to mimic what occurs naturally. In the long-term this means ensuring rivers are free to meander and create a more natural form. At the same time, we want to protect our rivers and landscapes from further degradation.

“Engineered flood defences lock us into a cycle of building our way out of trouble. Natural solutions seek to break this cycle by addressing the root of the problem.”

NFM is becoming embedded in guidance and policy across the UK. It produces co-benefits that include improved water quality and soil health and habitat compensation and carbon sequestration. With planning, NFM can also provide recreational opportunities and access to green space.

Drafting the manual was supported by the River Restoration Centre and Yorkshire Dales River Trust. It can be downloaded here

Emma Wren of Mott MacDonald