Barriers to mainstream adoption of catchment-wide natural flood management: a transdisciplinary problem-framing study of delivery practice

kimberley.peters [ at ]


<jats:p>Abstract. Natural flood management (NFM) is the name given to nature-based solutions (NBS) for flood management in the UK. It is a holistic flood management technique that employs natural hydrological processes, through the installation of interventions, to slow the flow of water, creating a landscape-scale flood management system. Despite widespread interest and supporting policy from governments and non-profit organisations, NFM, as yet, has not been widely adopted as a mainstream flood management technique. A small number of academic studies examining perceived barriers to NFM adoption have identified a variety of individual factors as being responsible. It is commonly accepted that flood risk management broadly, and NFM specifically, are complex, challenges of interacting physical and human parameters, and that academic, institutional and policy divisions are rarely sympathetic to embracing these complexities. A transdisciplinary problem-framing study in conjunction with professionals experienced in the delivery of NFM projects in the UK aimed to capture these multifaceted parameters of flood management and strategic delivery at a landscape scale using group concept mapping, a systems approach to identify conceptual convergence. This policy-delivery impasse was further explored by quantifying the relative importance of individual barriers and conceptual groupings from the perspective of two different practitioner groups (flood risk managers and conservation practitioners). The results demonstrate that the NFM delivery system can be grouped into seven interacting elements, policy and regulation, politics, public perception, cross-cutting issues, funding, technical knowledge and evidence, of which each has a varying number of barriers that limit NFM uptake. Opinions differ as to the importance of these individual barriers; however, when considering the system broadly we identify that the institutional and social barriers are perceived as the most important, whilst technical knowledge and evidence are the areas of least concern. This paper aims to promote NBS flood management delivery in the UK and globally by generating, structuring and representing the multifaceted and multilevel NFM delivery system at a local level to evidence adaptive decision making at regional, national and global levels. Through problem structuring and an increased understanding and awareness of the structure and network of linking elements and perceived differences of practitioner groups that influence the system of delivery, steps can be taken towards solutions that are socially, scientifically and practically robust. </jats:p>

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DOI 10.5194/hess-25-6239-2021

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Wingfield, T. , Macdonald, N. , Peters, K. and Spees, J. (2021): Barriers to mainstream adoption of catchment-wide natural flood management: a transdisciplinary problem-framing study of delivery practice , Hydrology and Earth System Sciences, 25 (12), pp. 6239-6259 . doi: 10.5194/hess-25-6239-2021

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