Tackling flood risk the natural way

20th February 2024

Don Catchment Rivers Trust is working with a variety of landowners to support them in managing their land and reinstating natural features that help to slow the flow of water into the river network.

We are no strangers to the impact of flooding in and around Sheffield with many of our properties and businesses having been impacted in the last 20 years, from the devastating summer floods of 2007, and winter 2019 floods, to those only a few months ago in October 2023.  If it were not for existing flood defences, there would be multiple other floods to add to this list. Our hard engineered flood defences, such as flood walls and gates, however, are coming under increasing pressure from more extreme storms as a result of climate change. Building ever taller walls is not sustainable and so we need to be doing more beyond just these traditional flood defences to tackle rising flood risk.

Natural flood management (NFM) is a nature-based solution that helps to reduce the risk of flooding by working with nature to slow and store water in landscapes upstream of our communities that flood. This covers a whole suite of actions including, for example, creation of wetlands that store large volumes of rainfall and runoff, and measures that encourage our soils to act as sponges such as woodland planting or regenerative agricultural practices that reduce soil compaction. If enough of these features and natural processes are returned to our landscapes, then natural flood management can help to reduce flood peaks and/or delay the time it takes for those flood peaks to reach areas at risk of flooding, giving people more time to prepare.

It is important to note that NFM is no silver bullet, but it is an important part of the toolkit that can work with other protection measures to reduce the risk of flooding. What’s more is that NFM can also deliver a great variety of other benefits including boosting wildlife habitat, improving water quality, increasing drought resilience, carbon capture, and increased amenity value. NFM measures can often be less expensive than traditional flood defences too, which means that properties may still be able to receive some level of protection from NFM schemes in areas where hard engineering defence schemes are not a viable option.

The Don Catchment Rivers Trust is a small charity that works to protect and restore your rivers. We work with a variety of landowners including councils, farmers and woodland guardians to support them in managing their land and reinstating natural features that help to slow the flow of water into the river network. 

Key areas of focus for the Trust over the next few years will be the Moss Valley and Smithy Brook catchment, upstream of Eckington and Renishaw respectively and just south of Sheffield. Numerous properties and businesses were impacted by flooding for the third time in less than 20 years during storm Babet in October 2023 in both areas. The Trust will build on existing relationships with local communities, landowners and farmers to support them in making management changes that help to slow the flow of water through their land helping to reduce flood risk and improve water quality of the brooks. 

If your business would be interested in finding out more or would like to help support our NFM programme of works, please contact us at info@dcrt.org.uk or visit our website for more information: www.dcrt.org.uk

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