Natural measures to prevent floods valuable but not ‘a silver bullet’, say researchers

Oxford Martin restatement finds claims that natural flood management will alleviate the worst floods are not supported by scientific evidence. Natural measures to manage flooding from rivers can play a valuable role in flood prevention, but a lack of monitoring means their true potential remains unclear, researchers say.

Such measures, including river restoration and tree planting, aim to restore processes that have been affected by human activities such as farming, land management and house-building.

Natural flood management is an area of increasing interest for policy makers, but its implementation can present a complex balancing act between the needs of different groups, including the public, farmers and land owners. Mixed messages about the efficacy and scalability of natural flood management measures add to the uncertainty surrounding their benefits.

Now a team of experts, led by Dr Simon Dadson of the University of Oxford, has compiled the evidence on natural flood management, in order to better inform policy decisions and show where crucial gaps in knowledge lie. Published today in the Proceedings of the Royal Society Athe restatement clarifies the scientific evidence available from a variety of sources, ranging from field data to model projections and expert opinion.

  • Download the full paper, A restatement of the natural science evidence concerning catchment-based ‘natural’ flood management in the United Kingdom
  • Dr Simon Dadson is Associate Professor in Physical Geography at Oxford University’s School of Geography and the Environment. His co-authors are Jim Hall and Anna Murgatroyd, University of Oxford; Edmund Penning-Rowsell, University of Oxford and Middlesex University London;  Mike Acreman and Nick Reynard, Centre for Ecology & Hydrology, Wallingford; Paul Bates, University of Bristol; Keith Beven and Louise Heathwaite, Lancaster University; Joseph Holden, University of Leeds; Ian P. Holman, Cranfield University; Stuart N. Lane, University of Lausanne; Enda O’Connell, Newcastle University; David Sear, University of Southampton; Colin Thorne, University of Nottingham; and Rob Wilby, Loughborough University.
  • Oxford Martin Restatements review the natural science evidence base underlying areas of current policy concern and controversy. Written in policy neutral terms and designed to be read by an informed but not technically specialist audience, restatements are produced by a writing team reflecting the breadth of opinion on the topic in the science community and involve wide consultation with interested stakeholders. The final version of the restatement is peer-reviewed prior to publication. For more information visit

No Comment

Comments are closed.