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How Natural Flood Management can work for your farm or business as a landowner: the benefits

Natural Flood Management (NFM) helps to slow the flow of water through a catchment, by reducing runoff and increasing the ability of catchments to hold water. This helps to reduce a rivers peak flow. The various NFM options can provide multiple benefits for land and business owners, including financial gain and savings whilst helping to alleviate flood risk.

Storms such as Desmond and Eva which took place in December 2015 can have huge detrimental effects on landowners and businesses, including damage to any buildings and assets, the loss of livestock and crops and the accumulation of large amounts of gravel. These effects can have big financial impacts on farms, land and businesses and it can take landowners many years to recover from them. Through sacrificing some of your land and applying natural flood management (NFM) measures, you can ease the effects a potential future flood could have on your business.

Available schemes and flooding

As a landowner, there are different ways of getting involved with managing your flood risk and implementing NFM techniques on to your land, whilst receiving financial incentives. Firstly, there is the Countryside Stewardship Scheme (CSS) which is available to landowners and land managers and offers financial incentives for making improvements to the environment, including installing measures to manage flood risk. These measures can include river bank restoration, creation and restoration of wetlands, installing instream structures and creating woodland. More information about the countryside stewardship scheme can be found here.

In addition, there is the Woodland Creation Grant, which is a part of the Countryside Stewardship Scheme and is a capital programme for planting and protecting trees. Successful applicants are given one off payments to pay for the trees that will be planted and any other associated items required for their protection. Eligible applicants can also apply for a woodland creation maintenance grant to maintain the trees for 10 years.  For more information, click here.

Catchment Sensitive Farming (CSF) was setup with the aim of saving money for farms and delivering environmental benefits in a number of catchments across England. Individuals from the farming community are provided with free advice and training through demonstrations and workshops. Landowners can also be offered capital grants to implement improvements on their land. More information can be found here.

Other additional benefits

As well as the schemes listed above providing financial incentives, installing natural flood management techniques can also generate income. For example, planting willow on your land can reduce the potential effects of flooding, provide a potential income of £230-£250 per harvested acre of willow per year and reduce the need of costly and expensive fencing repair bills. In 2014, a farmer in Cumbria was asked to take part in an experimental project which involved planting 28 acres of willow crop. When Storm Desmond hit, the River Derwent overtopped causing huge impacts to landowners and farmers across Cumbria, however, this farmers land was largely unaffected by flood water and he believes that it was down to the willow crops. Other farmers in the area had repair bills of £38,000.

 

M J Richardson / Willow Plantation / CC BY-SA 2.0

 

Additional benefits of natural flood management include the reduced need for installing expensive fencing. Instead, planting hedges and trees can protect livestock, provide shelter for any animals and protect land from floodwater. NFM measures also provide opportunities for habitat creation and can encourage new species and wading birds to the area. In addition, creating woodland helps to manage flood risk by intercepting rainwater and reducing peak flows, increasing soil infiltration rates and increasing hydraulic roughness. The trees and hedges planted can also intercept any gravel which is released from the river as it overtops its banks, this reduces the need for expensive and damaging gravel removal.  Furthermore, NFM measures can improve soil structure, reduce the loss of top soil and increase soil productivity, which as a result, increases agricultural productivity.  Healthier soils absorb and hold water for longer which would be extremely beneficial in drought conditions. If you are a landowner upstream, implementing NFM measures can benefit the mental health of the people living in areas downstream of your land, as they feel more reassured and less anxious about the likelihood of a flood.

Natural Flood Management can have many different benefits for landowners, even though it may require sacrificing some of your land. Importantly, there is the opportunity for financial gain and savings and increased soil productivity. Further information on the benefits of natural flood management can be found in our blog here or on our ‘Multiple Benefits of Natural Flood Management’ infographic.

 

Sources: The Flood Hub, .gov, The Guardian ,

Top Image:  Mike Quinn / NY7346: The valley of the River Nent at Blagill / CC BY-SA 2.0

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