Lessons learnt NFM

Three pilot projects implemented natural flood management (NFM) measures to lower flood risk in different catchments in the United Kingdom: Medway, Lustrum Beck and Southwell. The following lessons learned were derived from these three pilots.

Work in partnerships to create a shared understanding of problems and solutions. Taking measures in a large catchment, such as the Medway or Lustrum Beck catchment, requires the involvement of several parties such as environmental agencies, nature organisations, local authorities and communities. Working in partnership allows to develop a shared understanding of the problems and solutions, to narrow down the scope of the project while having a long term vision, and match plans and interests to reduce flood risk in the catchment. In these pilots, the partnerships for instance facilitated the decision making of the location for the implementation of the NFM interventions. It also improved the communication between authorities and local communities which in turn resulted in better collaboration among the stakeholders involved in the partnership.

Working within a catchment means crossing political and administrative boundaries. To implement NFM measures at catchment level requires the collaboration among stakeholders across different governance layers. This means crossing boundaries, political or administrative, to avoid hitting barriers within a catchment, such as conflict of interests between landowners and environmental agencies. In the NFM pilot projects in the United Kingdom, stakeholders from every layer of governance collaborated: from knowledge institutes, local and regional governments, and drinking water and sewage organisations, to road management organisations, nature conservation agencies, flood action groups and NGOs. New collaboration groups resulted from the pilot project with: the riparian owners, the landowners and the local councils.

 Understand and combine the political, hydrological, geological and social context of a catchment. Before implementing NFM measures to reduce flood consequences, it is important to understand the geology, hydrology and social system of the catchment where NFM will be applied. The FRAMES pilot projects used flood risk assessments to determine flood risk areas combined with modelling, visual observations, knowledge of local communities to select sub-catchments for NFM interventions.

Continue monitoring the NFM measures to demonstrate (additional ecological) benefits.By monitoring the NFM interventions beyond the lifespan of the pilot project, it will be possible to show the effectiveness of NFM in FRM. This knowledge needs should also be passed to other stakeholders in other catchments  to increase flood resilience there as well. E.g. the manager of the Medway pilot stated that FRAMES project helped to identify priority areas, to better target measures for further work in the Medway Catchment. The evidence based will continue to improve as a result of the planned long-term monitoring of the NFM measures.

Dissemination is key to ensure the implementation of the NFM intervention. In the Southwell pilot, the Trent Rivers Trust worked together with the Southwell flood forum to raise awareness among communities which are at flood risk and communities that have never been flooded. They provided a flood warden (volunteers) network with infrastructure and communication hub to disseminate information. This has allowed stakeholders to implement NFM in the Trent river area as well as other catchments.

Integrate a catchment based-approach into flood action plans. NFM interventions are used as preventive measures looking beyond managing floods at property/ town level to manage floods at catchment level. In order to implement NFM wider in the catchment, the strategic flood action plan should improve. In the Lustrum Beck pilot (UK), the pilot manager will integrate the wider catchment management planning into infrastructure development plans.