Webinar recordings

Access recordings of webinars from our 2019-2021 series below:

Overview of the findings and recommendations from the Landwise project including a web tool for visualisation.  And how different Natural Flood Management measures related to land use and land management affect soil physical and hydrological properties with implications for flood risk management. Survey sites have included a range of arable, permanent grassland and woodland land uses over chalk, limestone and mudstone geology. Farming practices included range from conventional to highly innovative.


Protect-NFM has worked alongside partners including Moors for the Future Partnership and the Environment Agency to carry out field studies to better understand the NFM efficacy of upland restoration works. The experiments have been carried out to assess the potential impact of various forms of gully blocking, restoration of Sphagnum cover on moorlands, and establishment of upland woodlands on hillslope runoff production and channel flow. In this presentation, Martin and Donald will provide a synthesis of empirical evidence from preliminary results obtained from these experiments. They will show the potential storage capacity of large stone dams (Brownies) in a flood-relevant event and highlight opportunities for optimisation. And how enhancing roughness properties can increase lag times and moderate runoff from peatland systems.

To access the webinar slides click here.

Additional material:

Click on image above to access paper.

To access webinar slides click here.

Richard talks about soil hydrology and natural water movement through different soil types.  He will show how to recognise degraded soils, and how these can be restored.  Case studies will be used, drawing in particular on the Environment Agency’s work in Devon and Cornwall.

Additional material:

Soil Examination, Rainfall Simulation and Soil Runoff and Infiltration Experiments following a flood event in the Boscastle area, July 2007, Dr Nicholas Howden and Dr Lynda Deeks, National Soil Resources Institute, Cranfield University

Soil Erosion Control in Maize, April 2002, Environment Agency R&D Technical Report P2-123/1, R O Clements, Institute of Grassland and Environmental Research & G Donaldson, Institute of Arable Crops Research

To access webinar slides click here.

The Eddleston Water Project, located north of Peebles in the Scottish Borders, is an ongoing long-term empirical study to understand changes in runoff dynamics resulting from NFM interventions.  Over 10 years the study has revealed a great deal of complexity in terms of runoff generation and hydrograph characteristics.  It now provides a rich source of data from more than 20 water level monitoring sites, enabling analysis of the interplay between attenuated and unmodified flows in a catchment characterised by varying geology and land uses.  In particular, the growing data set provides a valuable resource for the testing of hydrological models of runoff attenuation.

This rich dataset has been used to undertake multi-scale calibration of a whole catchment 2d hydrodynamic model (HEC-RAS 2D). Different model representations of the leaky barriers have been investigated and a user-guide developed to help modelling NFM in other catchments based on the Eddleston water findings.

Alongside the focus on surface water and groundwater hydrology, a second aim of the project is to assess the impact of NFM measures on riparian habitats and catchment ecology, so taking an integrated whole catchment approach to river restoration. A focus has been the impact of NFM channel remeandering on hydromorphology, aquatic macroinvertebrates, macrophytes and fish populations in the Eddleston. The remeandering (after 200 years!) of the channel at Cringletie and Lake Wood forms the basis for the work.

Additionally, the study has included assessment of the costs and benefits of NFM works. The headline findings show £2.85m benefits from flood damages avoided complemented by £17.7m from other ecosystems services including carbon sequestration, water quality, biodiversity and recreation.

You can download a more detailed summary here and find out more about the project on the Tweed Forum website here.

To access webinar slides click here.

This webinar explores the application of a linked modelling approach to quantify the effectiveness of land-based NFM measures implemented across more permeable lowland catchments in the West Thames basin.  The NFM measures under particular investigation include: crop and soil management, woodland creation and leaky barrier implementation.  The linked modelling work has also evaluated how changing groundwater recharge dynamics, as a result of widespread NFM implementation, could influence the risk of groundwater flooding to vulnerable communities and river baseflow contributions.

To download the webinar slides click here.

Implementation of natural flood risk management (NFM) and many other nature-based approaches to sustainability, has accelerated in recent years, including in the United Kingdom (UK). Both the National Infrastructure Assessment (2018) and the National Flood and Coastal Erosion Risk Management Strategy for England (2020) recommend NFM amongst future priorities. In this presentation Simon and Marcus provided a synthesis of recent advances in the natural science evidence base concerning the effectiveness of catchment-based natural flood management (NFM) in the United Kingdom. They summarised the key new studies that have been published since their earlier review of this topic. The subject continues to be an area of active research and policy importance and Simon and Marcus proposed some guiding principles to help focus future research.

In this webinar Dr Mark Wilkinson considers the opportunities and challenges of nature-based management strategies in agriculturally managed landscapes. More specifically, he  explores how common management approaches (e.g. riparian buffer strips, edge of field margins) could be best designed in order to also attenuate flood runoff. Using Scottish, English and international case studies, Mark demonstrates the importance of place and scale in optimising multifunctional measures in order to enhance flood protection but also deliver wider ecosystem services (e.g., water quality and drought protection).

To download the webinar slides click here.

Part of the Landwise project, this study seeks to extend and refine routine, in-service catchment-scale mapping of soil moisture, utilizing both space-based and ground-based radar units. The research to date has focused upon building a timeseries of relative soil moisture data for the Thames Basin, (focusing on the Upper Thames, Loddon, and Kennet catchments) in South East England using Sentinel 1 satellite observations.  Through this time series, it is possible to see seasonal changes, impacts of droughts, winter storms, and even individual storm tracks. It also allows for a comparison of soil moisture with respect to different land uses and widescale catchment properties, including land-scale NFM measures such as changes to agricultural practice.

We are working with the Centre for Ecology and Hydrology (CEH) to help validate the satellite data with ground-bases radar observations, using a purpose built Radar Rig, along with other soil moisture observations. Together with soil properties measured by CEH, the observations from the field studies will be used to refine Landwise modelling predictions of land use change impacts.

Our ultimate aim is that the work will lead towards the development of tools for land managers, including farmers, to help inform land management decisions, not least those around NFM.

You can find out more about Will Maslanka on our blog here.

Contact: k.morrison@reading.ac.uk;  will.maslanka@reading.ac.uk

To download the webinar slides click here.

Mark describes techniques for in-field monitoring of the efficacy of NFM interventions and the development and deployment  of open-source, low-cost, DIY, sensors (http://www.freestation.org/)  and the associated //Smart: system (http://www.policysupport.org/smart) of tools for analysis.  These are used to assess the effectiveness of individual NFM measures in a range of UK settings indicating which work better in different situations.

Contact details for Mark Mulligan:

email: mark.mulligan@kcl.ac.uk

twitter: @markmulligan

To download the webinar slides click here.

As a major land owner with ambitions to restore nature and deliver public benefit, the National Trust has been engaged in natural flood management projects for a number of years. During this webinar Stewart explains the role of the National Trust in delivering NFM and describes the range of projects the organisation is involved with from leaky dams to reintroducing beavers. He also considers the place that NFM might have within wider flood risk management and also agri-environment schemes and how the National Trust is informing these debates.

Contact details for Stewart Clarke:

email: stewart.clarke@nationaltrust.org.uk

twitter: @fluitans; @nationaltrust

To download the webinar slides click here.

Jon Hollis, Environment Agency, Natural Flood Management Programme Manager explains how the pilot programme is sharing its learning to make NFM an “Everyday Choice for all”.

In the 2016 Autumn Statement, Defra announced £15 million of government funding to go into Natural Flood Management (NFM) schemes across England. This funding was allocated to 60 projects in total, 26 catchment scale projects and 34 community scale projects. £1 million of this funding was allocated to community scale projects and distributed through a competitive application process. The catchment scale projects were identified by the Environment Agency, Natural England, and the Forestry Commission.

Emma Boyd, Chair of the Environment Agency has said: ‘Natural flood management is an important part of our approach, alongside traditional flood defences and helping homeowners to improve their own property resilience. There is no ‘one size fits all’ solution to flooding and this scheme is a fantastic example of how we can use a variety of measures that work together to reduce flood risk’.

Contact: John.Hollis@environment-agency.gov.uk

Contact: n.chappell@lancaster.ac.uk

To download the webinar slides click here.

This presentation focused on direct field observations of NFM effectiveness used to constrain catchment-scale modelling in Cumbria, UK. The observations cover enhancement of rates of wet-canopy evaporation, soil infiltration capacity and slope/channel storage associated with NFM-related interventions. Nick explained why such direct field observations are key to scientific credibility; why parallel rainfall and streamflow observations are critical; and how micro-scale field measurements relate to effective parameters needed by models. The ideas and findings arise from a team of investigators and partners working on the NERC Q-NFM project and Environment Agency NFM pilots in Cumbria.

To download the webinar slides click here.

Tom talked about how woodlands and their management can affect flooding. He considered the different mechanisms and factors involved, the magnitude of the woodland effect, the role of opportunity mapping and the valuation of the woodland flood regulation service. Tom concluded by describing a planned new Forestry Commission Practice Guide on designing and managing forests to reduce flood risk.

Tom works for Forest Research and leads the Physical Environment Research Group. He has over 30 years of experience in forest hydrology and applied catchment management, including leading the Slowing the Flow at Pickering NFM project. His team have been at the forefront of evaluating the contribution of forestry to NFM, with results directly informing forest policy and practice.

Contact: tom.nisbet@forestresearch.gov.uk

To download the webinar slides click here.

Katharina talked about the PROWATER project which is generally focused on building a structure for a Payments for Ecosystem Services scheme to implement ecosystem-based adaptation measures for water scarcity and create resilience to extreme weather events such as drought and flooding. The Trust is working on three pilot areas in Kent and East Sussex, two of them chalk aquifer catchments and one a (clay) surface water catchment. An important part of the work is the more conceptual element of creating a collective long-term vision on implementation of Ecosystem-based Adaptation (EbA) measures and a framework on which a ‘Payment for Ecosystem Services’ scheme can be made operational.

Contact: Kathi@southeastriverstrust.org

Presentation slides are available here.

Chris talked about how NFM is currently being implemented by the Environment Agency with case studies including work at Stroud.  He also talked about how the Agency sees NFM links and opportunities with the ELMS which will replace the Common Agricultural Policy, the EU subsidy scheme.   ELMs will support delivery of the DEFRA 25 year Environment Plan and will come into force in 2024.

Contact: Chris.Uttley@environment-agency.gov.uk

20 August 2020 12:30 – 13:30: Dr Salim Goudarzi & Dr David Milledge University of Newcastle, Protect-NFM

To download the webinar slides click here.  A poster explaining the work is available here.

This webinar explored, using numerical modelling in conjunction with existing Before-After-Control-Intervention experimental data, the impact of NFM practices on catchment functions. For example, does re-vegetation reduce peak discharge primarily by increasing evapo-transpiration and thus reducing runoff generation; or by increasing roughness and thus attenuating overland flow? Does gully blocking reduce peak flow primarily by increasing the water available for evapo-transpiration or by reducing the flow velocity? Understanding how these changes work is desirable because it: (1) conditions our expectations for future interventions; (2) guides future decision making and implementation.

Contact: salim.goudarzi@ncl.ac.uk; David.Milledge@newcastle.ac.uk

Presentation slides are available here.

Peatlands cover nearly 10% of the UK’s land cover but few of our peatlands are in a near-natural state.  Most have been damaged by drainage, air pollution, fire, erosion and other land-use pressures, and the last decade has seen a dramatic increase in the number of projects aiming to restore peatland landscapes. Many communities at risk of flooding have peatlands in their upstream catchments, and peatland restoration is increasingly linked to flood risk reduction.

In this webinar Tim and Emma evaluated the current evidence that restoration of peatlands can reduce the peak flows of rivers and contribute meaningfully to Natural Flood Management. They summarised the findings of a recent report to the International Union for Nature Conservation (IUCN) UK Peatland Programme Commission of Inquiry on Peatlands, work supported by the NERC ‘Protect-NFM’ project.

The talk was based on a report prepared for the IUCN. The URLs to download this (and the other reports completed for the IUCN commission of Inquiry) are :



Contact: tim.allott@manchester.ac.uk; emma.shuttleworth@manchester.ac.uk

Presentation slides available here.  A transcript of the webinar chat discussion is available here.  Responses to pre-submitted questions here.

Project report and opportunity maps are available for download here: https://catchmentbasedapproach.org/get-involved/hull-east-riding/

This project has sought to understand the impact of implementing NFM measures in different places in a complex lowland area – the River Hull catchment. Jessica talked about the methods used to model the impacts of implementing NFM within upper sub-catchments to calculate reductions in peak flows and time delays to the peak within the River Hull. From the hydrological data, opportunity maps were generated to show the specific location and type of individual NFM intervention used in the modelling. Jessica went on to explain a novel evaluation matrix, which was developed with partners to enable weighting of a number of factors, including ecosystem services, costs and maintenance of NFM and impacts to existing land cover, for assessing the overall benefits of NFM.

(Project lead – Hull City Council; consultants – Ove Arup; sub-consultants – Energy & Environment Institute, University of Hull; Funders – Flood Defence Grant in Aid, Environment Agency).

Contact: jessica.fox@hullcc.gov.uk

Barry’s slides are available here.

In the Q-NFM project, part of the NFM Programme, we want to constrain model uncertainties at the micro-scale using accurate measurements, so we can reduce uncertainties when we try to model the effectiveness of NFM at the macro-scale.

Whilst we have developed a modelling framework capable of scaling up hillslope processes and hydrodynamics around channels in flood, we have been recently getting to grips with modelling the micro-catchments, including the everyday issues faced by hydrologists.

The image is from some preliminary micro-scale modelling where telemetry from recent storms is being used to attempt to model different types of NFM – this example shows hydro-hedges at Stock Beck, Cumbria.

Barry explained how Q-NFM are working to scale things up, but also other types of new evidence are still needed to improve large scale and whole-system models.

Contact: barry.hankin@jbaconsulting.com

Lydia’s slides are available here: NERC NFM_LydiaBG_160420

Questions and answers are available here: 200416 Webinar QuestionsLBG (002)

Lydia gave an overview of the the work of the Environment Agency’s flood risk research team and how they identify research needs and deliver applied research which fills gaps in policy and practice.  She explains the Environment Agency’s NFM research framework.  In particular she covers work that summarises evidence behind NFM and how it has informed Government policy through the 25 year environment plan and how it is being used by practitioners implementing NFM schemes.  She also describes current research on Carbon offsetting and Sustainability.

Contact: Lydia.Burgess-Gamble@environment-agency.gov.uk

The Landwise project is looking at how effective land-based natural flood management (NFM) measures (such as woodland planting, changes to land and soil management and woody dams) may be at reducing the risk from flooding from surface runoff, rivers and groundwater in groundwater-fed lowland catchments. Integrating local knowledge with technical field and modelling work is a key feature of the project.

Chris and Angie spoke about their work bringing together local stakeholders with knowledge on current land use and management to find out which types of NFM measures they believe are acceptable (both culturally or socially) and feasible in certain landscape areas across the West Thames area. They presented preliminary findings from a recent farmer knowledge survey and from a series of NFM scenario building workshops. They outlined how outputs will be used to create catchment scale scenarios for modelling experiments to look at how land-based NFM could affect flood risk.  Finally they shared some learning on their top tips for stakeholder engagement concerning NFM.

Click here (Chris Short) and here (Angie Elwin) or on the images below to access webinar slides.

Answers to unanswered webinar questions

Contact: cshort@glos.ac.uk

Ian talked about his research, in particular the outputs of the COMPACT project, a NERC funded project, under their Soil Security Programme  This involved investigation of the impact of arable and pastoral land management practices on soil health and structure, focusing on the process of soil compaction, and second, the link between field scale variations in compaction and catchment scale flood risk. It identified significant spatial variations in soil physical properties, using traditional sampling approaches, CT scanning and Ground penetrating radar.

Contact: i.pattison@hw.ac.uk

Summary: Water companies are increasingly looking into catchment management strategies to deal with floods, water pollution and water scarcity. Measures based on cover crops are known to mitigate these issues as they slow down runoff, increase infiltration and soil cohesion. However, to support the design and prioritisation of investment decisions in their catchments, catchment managers need evidence about the magnitude of cover crop benefits at catchment scale, and the sensitivity of those benefits to species mixes and spatial coverage. Related to the BBSRC funded project ‘Using roots to bio-engineer soil’, Andrea’s talk covered the combined use of lab controlled trials and modelling to assess the effectiveness of cover crops on infiltration and soil erosion in the River Lea catchment.

Click here to access webinar slides.

Contact: Andrea.Momblanch-Benavent@cranfield.ac.uk


Niels rerecorded the webinar because there were are some sound problems in the original.  You can access the rerecording here.  Please note it is in several parts.

If you would like a copy of the slides, please contact Niels directly:

Working with farmers and landowners to help them adopt management practices that realise benefits including flood risk reduction and biodiversity enhancement whilst at the same time using supporting them to improve soil and pasture health, and their bottom line.

Niels is a researcher, adviser, educator, designer and tree nurseryman. His goal is to help create regenerative landscapes and farms in the UK and Europe, with a focus on agro-ecological systems that are low maintenance yet productive.

Niels delivers specialist training courses for farmers, growers and land managers across the UK. He advises on: soil health practices; planned grazing; agroforestry; whole-farm planning; infrastructure: water, fencing etc; composting & manure management; monitoring of soils & pasture; on-farm trials.

More on Niels’s work here.  Contact: info@nielscorfield.com

18 October 2019, Prof Martin Evans & Dr Emma Shuttleworth, University of Manchester: Protect NFM 

The UK supports 15% of the world’s blanket peat cover, but much of this vital resource is significantly degraded. As such, the restoration of eroding UK peatlands is a major conservation concern.  Landscape-scale restoration through the re-vegetation of bare peat and damming of gullies is extensive in areas of upland Britain.  Understanding the hydrological impacts of these restoration interventions is critical for flood risk management.  Martin and Emma talked about their research in the Southern Pennines.

Click here or on image below to access webinar slides.

Contact: martin.g.evans@manchester.ac.uk; emma.shuttleworth@manchester.ac.uk