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Author Archive for Marc Stutter

Linking Communities with Environmental Data

Automated environmental data allows us to better understand and manage risks

Stream-bank Buffer Strips Provide Multiple Benefits

What are buffer strips and how can they help?

Image showing a drainage feature and buffer strip

Managing Rural Septic Tanks

What’s the issue?

Natural Flood Management

The Natural Flood Management Approach

Natural flood management can be described as:

“a suite of techniques that aim to work with natural, hydrological and morphological processes to manage the sources and pathways of flood waters. At the same time natural flood management can improve the quality of our natural and urban environments and provide many additional benefits for water quality, ecology, climate change, and recreation” (Scottish Environment Protection Agency, 2012).

A large range of NFM techniques exist. Evidence varies about the likely impact of each technique. For the majority of techniques the certainty with which the impact can be predicted is low and the impact is likely to vary with location conditions (soil, slope, land use intensity etc). Some examples are given below:

  • Conifer and broadleaf woodland planting: There is consensus that the effects of forestation diminish with both catchment size and event magnitude, but the location within catchment is significant;
  • Reducing grazing pressure on pasture: This technique aims to improve soil condition and water infiltration. Research shows that there may be a reduction of 13% or more in run off;
  • Creation / restoration of non-floodplain wetlands: It is often thought that wetlands act as a sponge, but this is not borne out by the evidence. Research provides conflicting messages about the effect of wetlands on reducing flooding. Each wetland is unique and effects can be both positive and negative;
  • Blocking Upland drains:  There is general agreement in the literature that upland drains can lower moisture conditions but could also improve connectivity to watercourses;
  • Floodplain reconnection: This can increase the travel time of water through the catchment and there is general consensus that it reduces flows, but there is disagreement on the magnitude of the impact;
  • Creation of constructed farm wetlands or ponds: These features increase storage in the catchment. Research shows they require careful design and may still have uncertain impacts depending on local conditions;
  • Improved management of lochs and reservoirs: The literature shows that changing the management of lochs and reservoirs can reduce flood flows.
  • Reach restoration: This can help in moving water past receptors, and the research shows that local effects can be significant, with a low degree of uncertainty.
  • Use of SUDS (sustainable urban drainage systems): Research shows that well designed and maintained systems are known to be effective with a low degree of uncertainty.

For more information contact: Wendy Kenyon

Flooding: Issues, Impacts, Drivers and Policy

The Issue

Flooding is a naturally occurring process which cannot be prevented.

Managing Catchments and Coasts at the James Hutton Institute

Image showing landscape around the catchmentThe James Hutton Institute’s Managing Catchments and Coasts Theme integrates expertise in soil, biogeochemical, hydrological, ecological sciences and socio-economics to manage the potentially conflicting demands for services across multiple spatial scales.

2011 saw the beginning of the Managing Catchments and Coasts research theme at the James Hutton Institute. This theme, building on the previous interdisciplinary work of the former Catchment Management Group, is developing a strong team of scientists working towards all sectors of integrated water resources management using the ethos of ‘thinking globally, acting locally’. The basis for this is our continuing active part in the management of the River Dee. The theme aims to support novel scientific research, both using and providing robust and extensive environmental datasets. From this we will develop data interpretation tools, modelling approaches and visualisation techniques that will aid understanding and cooperation across a range of community and water management sectors, shaping effective policy at local, national and EU levels.

Our research is driven by a need for effective solutions to manage the complex interplay of pressures centred on the quantity and quality of the fundamental resource of water. We seek to identify opportunities for multiple benefits for land, water and people that are cost-effective and resilient to the future changes in climate, land use and policy. This is achieved by scientists working in partnership with regulators, policy-makers, industry and communities to optimise the available solutions.

This really is an exciting time for the science and management of our fundamental, shared asset of waters. The momentum is building through 2012 by way of a series of flagship EU events, the World Water Forum, the Green Week focus on water, the ‘Blueprint’ for revised and coherent water policy and the EU Innovation Partnerships on Water and Sustainable Agriculture. At the highest level these recognise the importance of water for the environment, society and business and are set against the national profiling objectives of Scottish Government’s ‘Hydronation’ agenda.

 

 

iDee gives you the chance to be a river observer

UK Environmental Virtual Observatory pilot study

Tell me about the changing river channel

The course of the river taken from an early 1800's map of Tarland

 

Q. “Has the course of the river changed much over time?”

Tell me about flooding

Road closure due to Tarland village flooding in 2002

Q. “How might I be better informed to make decisions about when to take action during flooding?”