The first day of the conference provided a detailed insight into a wide range of fluvial systems, a wealth of practical and innovative river restoration techniques combined with evidence of robust and pragmatic solutions that have enabled the successfully delivery of Natural Flood Management (NFM) initiatives across the UK. However, barriers to progress still exist and many challenges lie ahead.
Envireau Water has identified several key themes and conclusions from the papers presented on the first day of the conference: These are as follows:
- Successful delivery of catchment scale river restoration and NFM projects requires early engagement with stakeholders and landowners; a clear and well defined restoration vision and a focus away from simply providing monetary incentives in order to bring communities together and enable them to work as a partnership.
- How do we best monitor and measure the benefits provided by river restoration and NFM projects? Should it be a qualitative or a quantitative process, or both? Discussion between the speakers and audience made it obvious that greater transparency and collaboration with flood insurers and other regulatory authorities is required moving forward.
- Extensive agriculture and industrial activities within many catchments across the UK has caused long lasting detrimental effects on our fluvial environments. From case studies presented it is clear, however, that all hope is not lost. The River Doe Lea in Derbyshire once had the unenviable reputation of being the most polluted watercourse in Europe. Persistence and perseverance has played a key role in the implementation of restoration works along this watercourse; small enhancements at a local scale have had much greater positive impacts on a catchment scale.
- Are the UK’s smaller watercourses (drains and streams) being left by the wayside in the drive to restore our major waterbodies? Or is it simply a case of ‘out of sight, out of mind’? From the discussions it was acknowledged that these smaller watercourses play a vital role in flood risk management at a local scale and should therefore should be maintained and restored.