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International guidelines on natural and nature-based features for flood risk management


The natural and nature-based features (NNBF) Guidelines are effectively a guide on natural flood management. They include 20 chapters organized into three sections: overarching themes, coastal features, and fluvial features. There is an introductory presentation by a chapter author for each chapter.

The introductory chapters cover the need for NNBF, principles of NNBF, engaging communities and stakeholders, planning using a systems approach, performance, benefits and costs, and adaptive management. The coastal chapters cover beaches and dunes, coastal wetlands and tidal flats, islands, reefs, submerged aquatic vegetation and kelp, and hybrid green-grey measures. The fluvial chapters cover an introduction to natural flood risk management, benefits and challenges of NNBF (including issues such as the need to avoid synchronising flood peaks across a catchment), descriptions of NFM and case studies. Each of these chapters introduces the different NNBF features and describes their main benefits and constraints.

The guidelines were developed by Engineering With nature, a partnership between the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) and the University of Georgia (UGA), and some of the chapters were co-written by UK organisations including the Environment Agency.


Guidance type/project stage

  • Ecosystem creation
  • Governance
  • Implementation
  • Ecosystem management
  • Monitoring and assessment
  • Planning
  • Ecosystem restoration
  • Principles and standards


  • Coastal and marine
  • Freshwater
  • Farmland
  • Grassland
  • Heathland
  • Hedgerows
  • Peatland
  • Ponds
  • Rivers
  • Seagrass
  • Shrubland
  • Saltmarsh
  • Urban
  • Wetland
  • Woodland

Challenges addressed

  • Climate change adaptation
  • Biodiversity
  • Health, wellbeing & cultural value
  • Climate change mitigation
  • Natural flood management
  • Water quality

Source | Engineering with Nature

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