Sussex Flow Initiative’s ‘outstanding’ work celebrated

Councillors and working partners gathered to celebrate the launch of a review into the work of the Sussex Flow Initiative.

The Sussex Flow Initiative (SFI) is a natural flood management project that works with the environment, not against it, to reduce flood risk within the catchment area of the River Ouse.  It is a partnership project that includes Lewes District Council, Sussex Wildlife Trust, the Woodland Trust and Environment Agency, supported by local groups such as the Ouse and Adur Rivers Trust.

The review report showcases the extensive project work the SFI has delivered and the benefits it is bringing.

Councillor Matthew Bird, Cabinet Member for Sustainability at Lewes District Council, said:

“I have worked closely with the SFI for a number of years and this five-year report brilliantly captures the outstanding work that has been achieved.

“Nature based solutions are integral to tackling biodiversity and the climate crisis we are facing and through the SFI that conviction is paying huge dividends within the River Ouse catchment.”

Over the last five years the Sussex Flow Initiative has:

- Constructed 568 leaky dams, to hold back approximately 586,000 litres of water per rainfall event

- Created 16.8 million litres of seasonal water storage - providing wetland habitat for wildlife

- Reconnected nearly five hectares of floodplain, which will store approximately 9.9 million litres of water

- Planted 65,000 native trees creating 8.7 hectares of woodland - 1.32ha in floodplain

- Planted 10.2km of native hedgerow

- Sequestered 20,474 tonnes of CO² annually through created woodlands & hedgerows

Councillor Julie Carr, Cabinet Member for Waste, Recycling and Open Spaces at Lewes District Council, said: “When the SFI was first conceived, a key objective was to engage individuals who might be interested in nature-based solutions but didn’t know where to start. Since then, the SFI has developed a far-reaching network of landowners and organisations that are working together to restore natural processes and create a more resilient landscape – all reflected in their CPRE award for work with landowners.”

The easy-to-read report is full of photographs and info-graphics and is available at www.sussexflowinitiative.org/news .  The team has also uploaded many interesting videos about natural flood management to You Tube and these can be accessed via the Sussex Wildlife Trust channel.

Sam Buckland, Sussex Flow Initiative Project Officer at the Sussex Wildlife Trust, said:

“I’m immensely proud of what has been achieved over the last five years and also grateful to the many partners, community groups and individuals who have done so much to help make it all happen.

“Seeing water spreading out across a newly reconnected floodplain is magical. When we remove unnecessarily constructed flood banks that have confined flood water in a river for decades, we free up millions of litres of natural flood water storage which helps to stop it flowing downstream to properties at risk.

“It’s an entirely different landscape, unconfined by human intervention but with huge benefits for people and wildlife – this includes exciting projects such as the potential to restore keystone species such as the beaver.”