Sussex Flow Initiative

Supporting Natural Flood Management

Sussex Flow Initiative (SFI) is a Natural Flood Management project formed in 2014 as a partnership between the Woodland Trust, Sussex Wildlife Trust and Environment Agency. The Project was originally set up to help to reduce flooding in the Ouse river catchment in central Sussex. In 2016 Lewes District Council joined the partnership, and in 2018 the project was expanded to include the Powdermill catchment in East Sussex.

We work with landowners, local communities and others to naturally slow down and store flood water in the landscape through advocacy and delivery.

In 2017, we celebrated 5 years of working in Natural Flood Management. Since the start of our project, we have achieved a huge amount. You can download our 5 Year Summary Report here, or scroll through our online showcase for more information. Our 2018 End of Year report and Summary are also now available to view.

Natural Flood Management (NFM) uses natural processes and landscapes to help reduce flood risk and to increase resilience to drought. The techniques we use deliver multiple benefits for people and wildlife. Natural Flood Management techniques include :-

  • Re-wooding landscapes to reduce flooding and run off
  • Planting hedgerows across slopes to capture rain
  • Using permeable surfaces and rain gardens to store run off
  • Restoring river channels and meanders
  • Restoring natural washlands
  • Natural erosion control
  • Reversing drainage of moorland, woodland and heathland
  • Using and managing Natural Woody Material in watercourses
  • Increasing surface water storage i.e. in ponds
  • Recycling roof and greywater run-off
  • Reducing (sub surface) land drainage

The Government has produced a range of Guidance on Working with Natural Processes to reduce Flood Risk, including a Series of useful one page Summaries on different NFM techniques such as leaky dams.

Our project officers can also give you advice on natural flood management. :-

  • For the Ouse SFI Project, please Contact Matt Turley at or on 07590 020323
  • For the Powdermill SFI project, please contact Rina Quinlan on or on 07595 452038
  • For enquiries about NFM in the rest of Sussex contact Fran Southgate at or on 01273 497555

You can also visit the Sussex Flow Initiative web page for Case Studies, Volunteer opportunities and other Resources on NFM, or the Sussex Flow Initiative Facebook Page.

For more information about how we work to reduce flooding naturally, you can download our Working with Natural Processes SFI Case Study, or our Focusing on Flow leaflet, or watch our You Tube Video about Natural Flood Management.

High Water, Common Ground is a fantastic short film about what a community can do in response to flooding. We also recommend the Stroud Rural Sustainable Drainage Project resources, including a documentary on the Principles and Methods of Natural Flood Management in small streams and their catchments.

The following are useful national resources on Flooding, Natural Flood Management and Natural Woody Material in rivers :-

The following National Case Studies are also of interest :-

If you are concerned about flooding in your local area, then look for your local Flood Action Group or learn how to Prepare Yourself for Flooding.

SFI has produced and contributed to a range of guidance notes on Natural Flood Management including :-

Natural or man made woody material can help to slow down flood water, and capture more silt and run off
Natural wood in rivers can help to slow down flood water, and capture more silt and run off
Sussex Flow Project logos