The use of nature based solutions is an important part of the Environment Agency’s (EA) strategy in strengthening resilience to flood and coastal erosion risk. Nature based solutions can include activities in different areas of a catchment for example:
Upper slopes (tree planting, leaky debris dams and peatbog restoration)
Mid-catchment (flood washlands and river re-connection and naturalisation)
Coastal (management and creation of coastal marsh and sand dune systems)
Nature based solutions that are appropriately designed and situated, can help manage flood and coastal risks, often alongside other measures. Nature based solutions can also provide benefits to the natural environment, including but not limited to habitat creation, increased biodiversity and improved water quality. Approximately 40 projects in the EA’s core Flood and Coastal Erosion Risk Management Investment programme include natural flood risk management elements and we expect the use of nature based solutions to increase.
Defra has a £15 million programme of 58 projects piloting the effectiveness of nature based solutions. These projects are testing new approaches to help determine where natural measures can be most effective at improving resilience to flood risk. Additionally, since 2003, the Moors for the Future Partnership has transformed over 32 square kilometres of bare and eroding peat in the Peak District and South Pennines through re-vegetation, grip and gully blocking, and sphagnum planting.
Finally the Government’s Agriculture Bill introduced to the House of Commons on 16 January sets out an ambitious and effective system based on the principles of ‘public money for public goods’. This new scheme will enable land managers to enter into agreements to be paid for delivering a range of public goods set out in the Government’s 25 Year Environment Plan. This includes mitigation of and reduced risk from environmental hazards, such as flooding which could be achieved through natural flood management.