Swinton Estate

Flood risk hotspot analysis to inform tree planting

The project at Swinton estate is to create and manage new woodlands, with the aim of planting 350ha of trees in the next 20 years. This will ultimately generate revenue from forestry, including timber, and will also have wider benefits from reduced flood risk, carbon sequestration, improved biodiversity and water quality. The estate aims to demonstrate that planting and management for conservation can be integrated with commercial interest, which could create an innovative business model that can be replicated across the UK, and wider. Funding through the Natural Environment Investment Readiness Fund has been awarded to the estate and our project feeds into this wider project

iCASP’s role

Our role is to provide evidence of the impact of tree planting on flooding and to help identify which areas of tree planting should be given priority. Ultimately this information will be combined with other strands of investigation in the wider project (e.g., ecological benefit) to inform the estates planting strategy going forward.  

This will be in two stages:

  • Analysis of flood risk to inform tree planning
  • Detailed hydrological modelling to quantify the benefits of tree planting in specific areas
Impact translation fellows Dr Jenny Armstrong and Dr Tom Willis on a site visit


One of the steps in assessing risk includes the calculation of ‘hydrological connectivity’ which indicates where overland flow is likely to occur. To do this we will use SCIMAP which can also be used to understand soil erosion risk in the catchment. The outputs of SCIMAP will be used to prioritise areas for planting.

Woodland creation can slow the flow, by increasing roughness, which also encourages deposition – the outputs from SCIMAP can therefore be used highlight areas which would benefit most from tree-planting at Swinton.

SCIMAP shows the areas of risk, however does not quantify the benefits of tree planting. To quantify the impacts on the flood curve (for example, changes in time to peak, peak volumes), we will use SD-TOPMODEL.

Discussions are ongoing with the Swinton estate team to help identify to best sites for tree planting.

Project team

iCASP Impact Translation Fellows: – Project Manager Dr Janet Richardson, Dr Stephanie Bond Dr Jenny Armstrong,  and  Dr Thomas Willis, iCASP, University of Leeds


Charles Clark, Head of Forestry and Grounds, Laura Angel, Estate Manager and Mark Cunliffe-Lister, owner of Swinton Estate

GSC Grays

Tenants of Swinton Estate