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Keywords:

  • Agricultural intensification;
  • flood risk;
  • land management;
  • scale problem

Abstract

A programme of field experiments at the Pontbren catchment in Wales has, since autumn 2004, been examining the effects of land use change on flooding. The Pontbren catchment possesses a long history of artificial drainage of its clay soils and intensification of sheep farming. Increased flood runoff has been noted within the last decades, as has the mitigating effect of trees at field scale. To examine the local and catchment-scale effects of land management within the catchment, including the potential advantages of planting additional trees, a multidimensional physically based model has been developed and conditioned on data from an intensely instrumented hillslope. The model is used to examine the effects of planting a small strip of trees within a hillslope. Results demonstrate that careful placement of such interventions can reduce magnitudes of flood peaks by 40% at the field scale. The challenges associated with upscaling these results to the Pontbren and Upper Severn catchments are discussed.