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Natural Flood Management (NFM)

Natural flood management (NFM) involves using various techniques to restore or mimic the natural functions of rivers, floodplains, and the wider catchment. It aims to store water in the catchment and slow the rate at which water runs off the landscape into rivers, to help reduce flood risk to communities downstream. NFM is also referred to as ‘working with natural processes’, ‘slow the flow’, ‘sustainable land management’ or ‘upstream management’.



Natural flood management (NFM) is becoming more commonly used across the country to try and help manage flood risk.

It is important that NFM measures are used as part of a combination of techniques that work together to provide flood mitigation, rather than relying on natural features alone. They can be used alongside existing ‘hard’ defences, as increasing the height of a wall or embankment alone does not always provide the best or most sustainable long-term solution.

Image taken from the National Flood and Coastal Erosion Risk Management Strategy for England showing the different Natural Flood Management Techniques


The North West ‘Natural Flood Management measures – a practical guide for farmers’ handbook contains more information about the types of NFM techniques that landowners can use, the associated maintenance and costs, and extra considerations.

You can take a look at our ‘Your Local Area’ page and map to see projects in your area and across the North West that are using NFM to help to manage flood risk.

The Environment Agency ‘Using the power of nature to increase flood resilience‘ report explains the benefits of the Natural Flood Management Programme and celebrates its successes.

The Environment Agency working with Lancaster University are undertaking a number of pilot projects which includes a pilot in the Kent catchment to evaluate the effectiveness of nature based flood mitigation. Watch the video below to find out more.


The Online Marine Registry (OMReg) website includes a map of coastal projects happening in the UK and across the world. Various shoreline schemes are displayed on the map and in the database, including coastal NFM schemes involving techniques such as managed realignment and shoreline restoration. Click here to explore the OMREG website.


All the resources of the different natural flood management techniques featured on this page can be found in our Natural Flood Management Toolkit which can be found here.




The Coastal Natural Flood Management Toolkit can be found here.