The Sussex Flow Initiative (SFI) in the River Ouse catchment is helping farmers and landowners to make their land more water resilient and better for wildlife.
The six-year-old initiative www.sussexflowinitiative.org is a natural flood management project (NFM) that is now being rolled out across the whole of this East Sussex catchment. It is also embarking on a new project on the Powdermill stream.
SFI advises on a host of measures, such as woodland and hedgerow planting, creating ponds and wildlife scrapes, restoring natural wood in streams and reconnecting rivers to their floodplain.
These activities provide multiple benefits that include reduced soil erosion; shade and water for livestock, wildlife habitats (including natural predators of agricultural pests). Communities downstream also benefit as water flow is slowed and temporarily stored on land.
Project officer Matt Turley writes: “We appreciate that most landowners require land for grazing livestock or growing crops and it is therefore important that our suggestions and any works that are delivered work with these activities. In addition to any one-off grants and labour that we can provide, many of the natural flood management measures can be supported by grants from Countryside Stewardship or Catchment Sensitive Farming.”
There are now greater resources available for the delivery of natural flood management (NFM) measures with the Environment Agency and local councils embracing this approach. This year the initiative has planted more than 17,900 trees, which help with soil structure and store carbon. Of these, 12,000 (2km of hedgerow and 1.3 hectares of woodland) were planted at the Sussex Horse Rescue Trust in Uckfield as field boundaries and shade for equines. They will reduce surface water run-off and increase rain infiltration, besides providing pollinator habitat. At Ashurst Organics, the project reactivated an ancient stream course, creating scrapes for waders and drinking areas for sheep. More than a million litres of extra water is now stored in times of flood.
Contact Matt Turley via email: c3Vzc2V4Zmxvd2luaXRpYXRpdmVAZ21haWwuY29t