Slowing the Flow
A bit of background
Slowing the Flow at Pickering aims to improve habitats to increase their capacity to store more water in the landscape and to slow the flow of water downstream, reducing the flood risk faced by the town of Pickering and surrounding areas.
Environmental management helps restore wetland habitats and improve the flow of waterways. This not only benefits local people by reducing the risk of flooding, but it also benefits wetland species such as water voles and dragonfly.
Flooding appears to be an increasingly common event and one that could get even worse with climate change, so flood risk management is incredibly important. Pickering has been flooded four times in the last 15 years (1999, 2000, 2002 and 2007); with the last flood the most serious to date, causing damage to homes and businesses valued at approximately £7m.
Slowing the Flow at Pickering commenced summer of 2009, and funding is secured until 2015.
There are a variety of techniques being used to make changes to the way the landscape is managed, these include:
- Constructing timber dams in small streams
- Planting trees, especially along streamsides and in the floodplain
- Blocking moorland gullies with heather bales
- Increasing the 'roughness' of vegetation by encouraging natural regeneration of trees and restoring heather on bare areas
- Slowing down runoff from farmland.
These techniques all work together to help hold flood water upstream and allow water to release slowly back into the river, lowering the chance of flooding in the lower areas.
The Authority has carried out a number of flood control measures on its own land at Levisham Estate to reduce and delay the movement of rainfall downstream into Pickering and Sinnington.
Is it working?
Slowing the Flow is an ongoing project, but improvement works, such as building timber dams in the Hole of Horcum, have improved small wetlands by retaining more water during dry periods and reducing erosion during heavy rain.
Success of the flood control measures is initially being assessed by Forest Research using mathematical models, but over time river flows will be monitored to assess whether the control measures have been effective. So far things are looking positive!
How can you get involved?
There have been several community events held in Pickering over the lifetime of the Project, keep a look out on Forest Research website for further details.
Who are we working with?
Slowing the Flow at Pickering is a partnership project. It is led by Forest Research, closely supported by Forestry Commission England, Environment Agency, North York Moors National Park Authority, Durham University, Natural England and the wider community. The lead funder is Defra.
Rachel Pickering, Conservation Officer