FD2120 - Analysis of historical datasets to look for impacts of land use and management change on flood generation

Theme:Strategy and Policy Development
Project status:Completed
Start date:27/04/2006
End date:31/03/2008
  • Flood and Coastal Defence,
  • Flood Defence,
  • Environmental Protection,
  • Land,
  • Modelling
  • University - Lancaster


The project has provided a full report with technical details of the choice of catchments, methods of analysis and full results described in 5 technical reports. The policy implications of the results are considered with the following recommendations:
1. Both climate variability, particularly rainfall variability, and land use and management affect changes in flood runoff. Changes in discharge should not be analysed without consideration of changes in catchment rainfall inputs.
2. The preliminary study of catchment responses within different event classifications was the most promising form of analysis developed during this project.
3. Adequate information about past land management changes and soil conditions is not readily available but will need to be collected and made available in future for different land use categories if improved understanding of the links between runoff and land management is to be gained and used at catchment scales.
4. The results of this project show that there will be a real difficulty of estimating the benefits of such measures in respect of any reduction of flood risk.
5. The difficulty in identifying consistent change given the limitations of the available data means that land management measures cannot be relied on as alternatives to more proven flood risk management options.
6. The difficulty in identifying consistent change given the limitations of the available data should not be taken to imply a policy of doing nothing.


Develop and apply methods for analysing rainfall-runoff data to isolate and quantify flooding effects caused by changes in rural land use and management practices.



There is an almost complete lack of knowledge as to the nature and extent of the effects on flooding caused by the changes in rural land use and management practices made in the past, particularly for the effects on flooding at the larger scale, downstream of where the land use and management changes were made. If flooding effects can be isolated and quantified in historical rainfall-runoff data, this would be a major step forward in understanding and would help to support policy decisions and the operational methods used to predict the likely impacts of measures proposed in the future for flood prevention and mitigation.