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CREW review on Barriers to Natural Flood Management

Image of the Bowmont catchment, Copyright Jonathon Hopkins

Research Funding Body

Scottish Government Centre for Expertise for Waters (CREW)


Holstead, K.L and Wendy, K

Objectives of the project

To review recent research and the literature to determine the factors which are likely to influence farmers’ implementation of natural flood management (NFM) features on their land.

Related projects

The James Hutton Institute has several other projects related to this subject.

Please click the following link to find out more about ongoing RESAS funded work work on barriers to natural flood management

Follow this link to find out more about other projects related to flooding and water management

Relevance of this work

This work is of broad relevance to those wanting to understand farmer behaviours in relation to water management.  The project reviewed factors which shape farmers perceptions regarding the implementation of natural flood management features, but many of these measures often also have effects on water quality. As well as this, this research provides a deeper understanding of the legislation which governs the water landscape and further supports findings which have previously noted farmer desires for increased support and advice, particularly from a trusted source.

Method used by this project

Review of recent research and current literature related to natural flood management.

Key Results of project

The review shows that nine factors are likely to be influential in farmers’ view of natural flood management and whether they might consider implementing NFM measures on their land:

  • Economic factors e.g. prices, financial incentives, markets, labour, economies of scale
  • Social factors e.g. social networks, what neighbours/other farmers think
  • Farmer characteristics e.g. personal interests, skills and experience
  • Farm characteristics e.g. size, ownership, business structure, soil type, weather
  • Funding and organisations e.g. paperwork, complexity, time; and the standing of key organisations
  • Policy landscape e.g. complementarity with other policy, need to get involved
  • Availability of support e.g. appropriate information, trusted advice, help if things go wrong
  • Catchment issues e.g. The existence of a catchment plan and catchment champions who can translate key messages in legislation and funding mechanisms to farmers
  • Presence of pests and parasites e.g. fluke, geese, spreading wetlands


Kirsty Holstead, Wendy Kenyon and Josselin Rouillard (2012) Factors that affect uptake of natural flood management features by farmers in Scotland: A review.  Published by The James Hutton Institute on behalf of CREW – Scotland’s Centre of Expertise for Waters.  Click here to download the report on farmer barriers to natural flood management (pdf, 702kb)

Kirsty Holstead and Wendy Kenyon (2011). Natural flood management – the farmers view. Research summary for CREW, the Centre of Expertise on Waters. Click here to download this briefing (Pdf, 97.2Kb)

Contact Person

Kirsty Holstead (

Project Information
Project Type: 
Archived Project


Areas of Interest

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The James Hutton Research Institute is the result of the merger in April 2011 of MLURI and SCRI. This merger formed a new powerhouse for research into food, land use, and climate change.