Environmental Change Network data collected by the James Hutton Institute at Sourhope in Scotland are contributing to a natural flood management project.

The project in the Bowmont Valley features on the new Natural Flood Management Network Scotland web platform. Under the Flood Risk Management (Scotland) Act 2009, Natural Flood Management options must be considered as part Scotland’s Local Flood Risk Management Plans, which many authorities are now implementing.

The ECN site at Sourhope is the control site in the Bowmont Catchment Natural Flood Management (NFM) case study. This study, on the effectiveness of NFM measures is funded by the Scottish Government and relies on collaboration between the James Hutton Institute, Tweed Forum and local land owners and managers. The purpose of the work is to collect empirical data before and after measures have been installed on the ground.  Measures have not been installed at Sourhope, making it an ideal control site. ECN meteorological data have been used by the project partners.

Monitoring equipment was installed at 10 sites in the Bowmont Valley in 2012, downstream of areas where NFM measures were planned. Measurements include water level sensors, time lapse photography and repeated topographic surveys using Real Time Kinematic Global Positioning System (RTK GPS). The measures, all aimed at slowing the flow of water through the catchment, include engineered log jams, bank protection log jams, and riparian tree planting in headwaters and on the flood plain. Work on the ground began in 2013 with most installations and planting completed in that year. A second phase of native tree planting was completed in 2017. The data gathered during the first 5 years of the project is summarised in this report.

The Bowmont Valley, part of the wider Tweed catchment, is a rural area with a relatively low population density but  flood events have caused significant damage to infrastructure, flooding of several properties and inundation of agricultural land compromising farming operations, which impacted heavily on the local community. With the support of local people the Tweed Forum has successfully acted as an intermediary between land managers and funding bodies to ensure ground works could be installed and maintained in the future. Monitoring carried out by James Hutton Institute is separately funded. The ECN site has been in operation at Sourhope since 1992.

Further information