Project overview

Protect-NFM is an innovative £1.2 million NERC funded project which aims to demonstrate that upland restoration offers a low-cost way to reduce the risk of flooding in vulnerable rural communities, and to optimise multi-benefit restoration work for NFM. It is one of three to be granted funding through the Natural Environment Research Council’s Understanding the Effectiveness of Natural Flood Management programme.

The Environment Agency has identified 22 communities at risk of flooding along the western fringe of the Pennines. These communities are relatively small, which can make it difficult to secure resources for conventional engineering approaches to flood risk management. NFM through upland restoration works has the potential to provide environmentally sensitive ways to reduce flood risk and protect these areas where hard flood defences are not always feasible.

This project team will work with partners Moors for the Future Partnership and Greater Manchester, Merseyside and Cheshire Environment Agency who have funded existing NFM work in the southern Pennines to undertake a series of field experiments. These experiments will 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. They will also assess the long term evolution of woodland and gully blocking approaches through the study of mature woodland and well established gully blocked systems.

The data will then be used to develop user-friendly, open-source computer simulations to optimise combinations of interventions, which will be shared with practitioners. We will work with our project partners (Environment Agency, Natural Resources Wales, Scottish Environmental Protection Agency, International Union the Conservation for Nature) to investigate how the project’s findings can be applied to elsewhere in the UK.

The team will work with its range of project partners across England, Wales and Scotland including regulators, land managers and industry to develop guidelines to optimise future implementation of NFM measures in headwater catchments across upland Britain.

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