Natural Flood Management

What with the flooding experienced in December 2020 and the threat of climate change, flooding has never been so high on the agenda in the Waveney Catchment. So the question is, What is Natural Flood Management?

Quite simply, Natural Flood Management (NFM) is using natural solutions to slow, capture, re-direct or store flood waters at times of high rainfall. This can prevent so much water from quickly flowing off the land and to the main river where it can cause flooding to homes and businesses. NFM measures can include tree or hedge planting, installing ‘leaky’ dams made from natural timber to hold back water, digging small pools or ponds to capture and store flood water and allowing the river to flow onto grassed floodplains where there is no risk to people or property. Healthy soils that allow the water to infiltrate are also really important.

The great thing about NFM is that it is also really good for creating new habitats and storing carbon.

Conference: Natural Flood Management in the River Waveney catchment - The Corn Hall, Diss - April 2022

The River Waveney Trust worked in partnership with Groundwork to deliver a public conference on NFM, kindly funded by Durrants Estate Agents and the Broadland Catchment Partnership. It was a wonderful opportunity to bring partners, stakeholders and the local community together on a hot topic for the Waveney

What we learned:

- Our environment has changed and continues to change considerably, bringing greater risks of both flooding and drought
- Flooding & wetland areas are important parts of natural river functioning
- NFM is about slowing the flow of water through the system to relieve flooding pressure downstream. This can also help to recharge groundwater storage, in turn building drought resilience.
- NFM can be cheap and may need little maintenance, but requires landowner collaboration. The cumulative effect of many NFM features across the landscape will have the greatest impact.
- Many examples of NFM are already underway within the Waveney catchment and throughout the East Anglia region.
Your feedback:
- There is a need for a single, local, trusted and transparent organisation to lead on NFM in the Waveney catchment.
- Communities should be involved through better communication, education, consultation and hands-on work.
- Funding availability, bureaucracy and balancing the needs of stakeholders are some of the biggest perceived barriers to implementing NFM
If you would like more detailed feedback from the event please email

Future work

We are also delighted to have been awarded funding from a National Lottery climate change fund - Together For Our Planet - for piloting NFM. This funding means we can create some fantastic showcase NFM measures and use them to inspire others in the catchment.

Thank you to our funders, partners and collaborators:
A flood plain in the Waveney Valley naturally holding flood water
A flood plain in the Waveney Valley naturally holding flood water
Leaky dam and pool to hold back water and catch sediment higher up in the catchment 
Lovely wet woodland in the Waveney Valley holding flood waters