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Natural Flood Management (NFM)

Natural flood management (NFM) involves working with nature to reduce the risk of flooding for communities. It uses 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 into rivers, to help reduce flooding downstream. NFM is also referred to as ‘working with natural processes’, ‘nature-based solutions’, ‘slow the flow’, ‘sustainable land management’ or ‘upstream management ’.




Natural flood management (NFM) is increasingly used nationwide to help manage flood risk.

It is important to combine NFM measures with other techniques for effective flood risk management, rather than relying solely on natural features. NFM 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.


Explore the following NFM resources, pages and toolkits for more information and guidance on 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.



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.