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1st June 2012

Natural flood management (NFM) knowledge system: The effect of land drainage on flood risk and farming practice

It is increasingly becoming understood that effective management of river basins in terms of water resources (floods, droughts, recreation and biodiversity) requires the integrated management of both land and water practices (O’Donnell et al., 2011). This integrated approach is also recognised as a requirement at smaller scales. For example, Abdel-Dayem (2006) notes that in most countries drainage systems are “...not designed to address simultaneously water management, disease control, drainage water reuse and flood management” and suggests that an approach to managing drainage from an integrated water and land perspective is essential.

Within this context, this report is one of three produced for CREW to verify the current state of knowledge on NFM. It briefly reviews the historical development of land drainage and looks at the impacts on flood risk from land drains and the recent move towards drain blocking.

1st June 2012

Natural flood management (NFM) knowledge system: The effect of NFM features on the desynchronising of flood peaks at a catchment scale

Natural flood management (NFM) is currently being promoted as a cost-effective catchment scale approach to managing flood risk and The Flood Risk Management (Scotland) Act 2009 places an emphasis on all statutory bodies to consider the use of NFM approaches where possible. Whilst this emphasis has already led to a number of initiatives aimed at assessing and promoting the more widespread implementation of NFM techniques within Scotland, there remains significant uncertainty regarding the effectiveness of NFM measures at the catchment scale. There is therefore a clear need to improve the evidence base of NFM performance, design and implementation.

This report is one of three produced for CREW to verify the current state of knowledge on NFM. It focuses on establishing the effectiveness of NFM features at a catchment scale, particularly in relation to how they may be used to desynchronise flood peaks and therefore reduce downstream flood risk.


Natural Flood Management - The farmer's view

A new sustainable approach to flood risk management which utilises land management has been brought to the forefront of policy making in Scotland through a policy chain including the EU Water Framework Directive 2000, the Water Environment and Water Services (Scotland) Act 2003, the EU Floods Directive 2007 and the Flood Risk Management (Scotland) Act 2009. This new approach manages risk in an integrated and holistic way, to proactively tackle the causes of flooding. Land use is central. Natural flood management (NFM) utilises land management measures to store water and slow the flow in upland areas to reduce flood risk downstream. NFM measures typically include wetland and bog creation or restoration, improvement and maintenance of buffers strips, contour ploughing and afforestation, and the installation of leaky barriers in water courses. To date, uptake of NFM by farmers has been poor - suggesting substantial barriers to implementation exist.

 Participants at a CREW workshop to identify capacity building projects

The Evaluating Science Policy Practice Interface (ESPPI) Project aims to assess how far CREW is meeting its original three objectives, and to make recommendations to the CREW Facilitation Team (CFT) and the CREW Steering Group (CSG) for future improvements. This report is based on the views of people involved in CREW (researchers from the James Hutton Institute and the university sector, and policy / practice customers in the Scottish Government, SEPA and Scottish Water).


Assessing impact of research on policy: a literature review

 Participants at a CREW workshop to identify capacity building projects

This review provides insights into how to evaluate the impact made by knowledge created by CREW activities and whether such impact leads to improved environmental, social and economic outcomes via evidence-based water management.   It is widely recognised that impact is more likely to occur when research is co-constructed with research users and is designed with a specific context and use in mind. Knowledge needs to be produced via engagement of researchers and policy makers throughout the policy and research processes, and the outputs communicated in the right way, at the right time, to the right people to produce outcomes which may have an impact. Dissemination of research is not in itself sufficient to have impact.

 Participants at a CREW workshop to identify capacity building projects

This review brings together literature relevant to evaluating projects and programmes that aim to enhance knowledge exchange (KE) between researchers, policy makers and other stakeholders (i.e. anyone with a ‘stake’ in a process or problem). The review aids the development of evaluation procedures to understand the effectiveness of KE projects implemented by CREW.

This review aims to provide recommendations for what needs to be considered in the design of evaluations. It is not meant to provide a step-by-step guide. The context for which this review has been conducted is environmental management and its relationship to and between the knowledge held by researchers, practitioners and policy makers. However, given the limited research on evaluating KE in environmental fields, the review draws on research from a wide range of other fields including business, management, health and education.


This review of good practice in evaluating science-policy-practice knowledge exchange was carried out at the start of the project to inform the approach of ESPPI-CREW in year 1 of CREW operation.

Local pumping station in the north of Stronsay, flooded; Photo credit: John Smith, Age 8, Orkney, Water works photography competition

Scotland’s centre of expertise connecting water research and policy (CREW) delivers objective and robust research and professional opinion to support the development and implementation of water policy in Scotland. Although the importance of demand-driven science to support policy and practice is increasingly recognised, it is not easy to ensure that information is communicated effectively, to the appropriate end-users, in a suitable format, and at the best time to impact on policy or practice. There has been little evaluation of what makes for ‘good’ knowledge exchange that improves interaction, and no agreed methodology for evaluating these practices.

1st March 2016

To what extent could water quality be improved by reducing the phosphorous content in animal feed?

Cows feeding; Cover images courtesy of: Richard Gooday, ADAS

The latest River Basin Management Plan (RBMP; Scottish Government, 2015) states that 16% of waterbodies are below good status for water quality, and 246 waterbodies face rural diffuse pressures. Rural diffuse pollution has been identified as the number one water quality issue. Previous water quality monitoring data in Scotland found 7% of water bodies were failing to reach good status for phosphorus (Scottish Government, 2009), although this is based on phosphorus standards which have since been revised. Agriculture contributes a significant proportion of the phosphorus loss. Controlling this loss is an important approach to improving water quality in Scotland.

25th April 2016

New Droughts and Flooding Report Published

The UK Water Partnership has published a new report

The UK Water Partnership has published a new report Droughts and Floods – towards a more holistic approach, which can be found with an accompanying blog by the leading author Jim Wharfe.

The UK Water Partnership is now exploring how to take forward the recommendation for a more holistic environmental approach to flooding and drought research, innovation and implementation, including opportunities for a range of ecosystem-related markets.


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