Project Overview

Ousewem is a major collaboration for YDRT. We are working in partnership to identify and deliver natural flood management (NFM) interventions to reduce flood risk in vulnerable North Yorkshire communities, spanning the Yorkshire Swale, Ure, Nidd and Ouse (SUNO) catchments.


The project embraces a catchment-scale, long-term perspective on flood resilience. Our mission revolves around understanding how NFM, as a form of Nature-based Solutions (NbS), can mitigate floods and provide additional ecosystem services. Using innovative modelling techniques to select the most impactful locations Ousewem will deliver and monitor how NFM can contribute towards reducing flood risk and increasing the resilience of communities across North Yorkshire.


Ousewem’s innovative approach

  1. Understanding risk: We assess the impact of land management changes on downstream flood risk.
  2. Slowing the flow: Our projects demonstrate effective water management to mitigate flooding.
  3. Community engagement: We connect communities though their natural water sources, increasing awareness and collaboration.
  4. Capacity building: We will leverage local skills and expertise, creating a legacy of enhanced capacity to deliver NFM across our catchment.


A hands-on approach

To deliver the program of NFM interventions, a grant scheme for landowners will be launched, and our officers will guide you through the full process, handling the admin, helping you apply for the grant and develop and deliver your scheme.

Our focus is clear – we’re targeting areas with the greatest potential to reduce the risk of flooding to nearby communities. We’re currently fine-tuning our process and testing our approach with a handful of pilot projects this winter, with plans to launch the grant scheme in 2024.


Why invest in NFM measures?
Investment in suitable and targeted NFM measures can contribute to reductions in damage and disruption caused by flooding to livelihoods and communities in York and North Yorkshire. These areas can be isolated and vulnerable to being cut off from vital services. NFM will also improve soil health and the productivity of local farmland, create environmental benefits, such as new wetland or woodland habitat for birds and wildlife, and has the potential to support the local tourist industry.


Decisions backed by research
Innovative modelling will underpin land management decisions to maximize benefits locally and inform future modelling practice nationally. Financing models will be investigated with the aim of developing a self-sustaining forward pipeline of NFM investment opportunities that enables a long-term legacy. Project learning will also inform flood and agri-environment funding policy.


Developing a legacy
Imagine the legacy we can create across the catchment – long-term water management, environmental, and social benefits. Our project will:

  • Build on local skills and expertise in designing and delivering environmental enhancement projects.
  • Raise awareness of the need to manage our land and water differently in response to climate change.
  • Collaborate with farmers, landowners, councils, communities, and businesses, providing data and evidence for working together to build resilience.


Join Ousewem on this transformative journey towards a flood-resilient tomorrow. Together, we will safeguard our environment and communities with “rising waters, rooted solutions.”


Get involved
To find out more, please email our delivery team, on [email protected] 


Our partners
Yorkshire Dales Rivers Trust is supported by the City of York Council, who is leading the project in close collaboration with North Yorkshire Council.

We also have partnership support from Natural England, JBA and the University of York.


Ousewem is an innovative flood resilience project, funded by Defra as part of the £200 million Flood & Coastal Resilience Innovation Programme which is managed by the Environment Agency. The programmes will drive innovation in flood and coastal resilience and adaptation to a changing climate.


We also work with a wide range of catchment partners including the Environment Agency, Dales to Vales Rivers Network, iCASP, NFM Practitioners, Nidderdale National Landscape, St Nicks, Yorkshire Peat Partnership, White Rose Forest, Woodlands Trust, WY FLIP, YRFCC, York and North Yorkshire Combine Authority, Yorkshire Dales National Park, Yorkshire Water, Yorkshire Wildlife Trust and many more.

Ousewem - Rising Waters, Rooted Solutions