What is the project?
Slowing the Flow at Pickering is a new project that seeks to demonstrate how better land management can help to tackle the flooding problem faced by Pickering in North Yorkshire, in common with many other towns and cities across the country.
Flooding appears to be an increasingly common event and one that could get even worse with climate change. Pickering has been flooded four times in the last 10 years (1999, 2000, 2002 and 2007), with the last flood the most serious to date, causing damage to homes and businesses valued at approximately £7m. The impact of the 2007 floods was particularly severe across the whole of the Yorkshire and the Humber Region, with the total damage estimated at £2.1 billion.
Who is involved?
Slowing the Flow at Pickering is a partnership project. It is led by Forest Research, closely supported by Forestry Commission England, The Environment Agency, The North York Moors National Park Authority, Durham University, Natural England and the wider community. The lead funder is Defra.
There is a great deal of public interest in the project and local people and organisations are actively encouraged to participate and help achieve a successful outcome.
What do we mean by land management?
The new approach to flood management relies on making changes to the way the landscape is managed, so that the passage of rainfall to rivers and its movement downstream is reduced and delayed. This will involve a range of ‘measures’, including:
- Constructing low-level bunds
- Planting more trees, especially along streamsides and in the floodplain
- Restoring woody debris dams in small streams
- Restoring wetlands.
How will we measure success?
The aim of the project is to implement a range of land management measures that will slow down water in the upper catchment, store more in the middle section and improve its conveyance through the town. Success will be gauged by the number of measures that are implemented and by their combined effect on the frequency of future flooding in Pickering.
Initially, mathematical models will be used to estimate the impact on flood risk but continued monitoring of river flows will allow these predictions to be tested and to prove whether the measures have been effective. The wider environmental benefits of the measures will also be assessed.