A beck on James Robinson's farm in its current, wilder state, and with the banks fenced off from livestock. Photo Credit: James Robinson

Environment United Kingdom13. February 2024

Rewilding Land: Curbing Floods the Natural Way

Some farmers in the United Kingdom are rewilding their land by planting trees and allowing vegetation to grow without intervention.

“The amount of life that has come is absolutely phenomenal. We get the extra bird life as well – we’ve got summer nesting snipe. It’s now a fantastic area where there’s always water, there’s always standing water, even when it’s really, really dry,” says James Robinson, whose family has run the farm for generations.

When Robinson took on the family farm decades ago, he switched to an organic farming approach. However, the farm suffered from severe overmanagement in other areas, with vegetation yanked out and riverbeds dredged or wholly filled in. When bouts of flooding began to become familiar, Robinson stopped overmanaging and allowed the farm to rewild itself, in line with what has been coined “natural flood management (NFM).” NFM involves practices such as river restoration, allowing these waterways to return to their natural wiggle shape rather than the man-made straight lines that many rivers resemble today. Another part of NFM is planting more trees near waterways, as they take in the excess moisture and help to reduce flooding. NFM needs to be further researched to understand its benefits better. Still, one thing is sure: wildlife seems to return and thrive in areas where NFM is practised, such as Robinson’s generational farm.

The Guardian

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