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Natural Flood Management in the UK: Developing a Conceptual Management Tool

Author(s): Linsey Mclean; Lindsay Beevers; Ssor Gareth Pender; Heather Haynes; Mark Wilkinson

Linked Author(s): Lindsay Beevers

Keywords: Natural Flood Management; Multiple benefits; Ecosystem Services; Riparian vegetation; Runoff Attenuation Features

Abstract: Natural Flood Management (NFM) is increasingly adopted as a crucial element within UK sustainable flood management. This utilises a non-structural multi-benefit approach, whereby the landscape’s natural ability is restored or adapted to reduce flood risk temporarily: retaining flood water, providing attenuation, promoting sediment deposition and transport, and adjusting the geomorphology of river systems (Flood Risk Management (Scotland) Act, 2009). Despite the drive for NFM, it is well-recognized that there is a significant lack of evidence that NFM techniques are actually effective in reducing flood risk at catchment scale. Simultaneously, NFM “multiple benefits” require evidence based quantification in order to fully evaluate and appraise NFM techniques as a substitute (at very small scale), or to compliment, hard engineered flood defences. Thus, within the UK the full range of NFM is being systematically assessed for this, and the associated cost-benefit, by way of field monitoring in a number of demonstration catchments. The aim of this paper is to identify variables, based on evidence and literature, which are suitable for monitoring the impacts, multiple benefits and Ecosystem Services (ES) of NFM techniques, specifically; Riparian Vegetated Buffers (RVBs) and Runoff Attenuation Features (RAFs). The variables identified are translated in a conceptual tool which will enable data collection for the quantification of NFM multiple benefits from an ES perspective. Essentially, this tool, and the variables identified, will assist policy implementation and research gaps whereby NFM measures must be appraised as a statutory obligation. The tool will adopt an “ecosystem service approach” in selecting variables, a relatively new concept and approach but one, advocated to provide a holistic technique able to represent the three pillars of sustainability (social, economic and environment).


Year: 2013

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