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Modelling the effectiveness of land-based natural flood management in a large, permeable catchment

Collins, S. L., Verhoef, A., Mansour, M., Jackson, C. R., Short, C. and Macdonald, D. M.J. (2023) Modelling the effectiveness of land-based natural flood management in a large, permeable catchment. Journal of Flood Risk Management, 16 (2). e12896. ISSN 1753-318X

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To link to this item DOI: 10.1111/jfr3.12896


In the UK, woodland planting and soil and crop management are being promoted as approaches to tackling flooding. Although evidence is limited, it is thought tree planting and regenerative agriculture practices such as crop–herbal ley pasture rotations increase infiltration, soil water storage and evapotranspiration, potentially reducing flooding. A process-based soil–water–vegetation model was coupled with a semi-distributed groundwater model to explore the impact of these interventions on peak and low flows in a large, groundwater-dominated catchment. Land use change and management were found to have limited potential to reduce flooding in this setting. Herbal ley–crop rotations produced a < 1% reduction in flow for return periods >2 years, and levels of woodland planting judged to be the realistic maximum produced reductions of 0.2–2.6%, depending on tree species. Broadscale spruce planting was the only scenario to produce significant reductions in peak flow (16.0−24.7% at return periods 1–15 years); however, the level of spruce planting required to achieve these reductions was estimated to reduce Q95 flow by ~39%, which would likely have negative implications for water security and ecological river flows. The impact of land-based NFM interventions for flood prevention in large, permeable catchments should not be overstated.

Item Type:Article
Divisions:Science > School of Archaeology, Geography and Environmental Science > Earth Systems Science
Science > School of Archaeology, Geography and Environmental Science > Department of Geography and Environmental Science
ID Code:111159


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