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Research project

TIMBER: Managing riverine flood risk & habitat diversity with in-stream wood

Project overview

As flood hazard, and the frequency of extreme floods in particular, is projected to increase in the future the risks associated with the impact of wood in rivers is also likely set to increase. Thus, in order effectively manage wood in river systems there is a need to understand and predict how the presence of wood will produce ecological benefits and how these benefits trade-off against the risks associated with its presence. This is not currently possible and this project seeks to address this significant knowledge gap. In order to improve understanding of this benefit-risk relationship there is a need to overcome major deficiencies in knowledge, including: (i) a lack of any attempt to systematically quantify the driving variables in wood dynamics and despite the rapid development and evolution of high-resolution measuring technologies there are inconsistencies in the type and methods of data collected. This means that there is limited capacity to validate predictive models of risk; (ii) research has been undertaken in an ad hoc manner and so many of the empirical relationships of the cost-benefits of wood dynamics have been drawn from case studies. Since the empirical relationships are used to underpin management strategies it is unclear of the global applicability of these sites beyond specific environments in which the relationships were derived, and (iii) limited understanding of how predicted increases in the frequency and intensity of flood events will serve to increase the risks posed by wood in river systems. By bringing the diverse skill set of the project partners together for the first time means that this network is now in a position to address these deficiencies. This proposal draws on the experience and expertise of all project partners who work across different global catchments representative of different hydroclimates and operationalise different management strategies. By doing this the network will deliver a globally derived and globally applicable standardised approach to both quantifying the impact of, and predicating current and future risks posed by, wood in rivers.


Lead researcher

Professor Steve Darby

Associate Dean Research

Research interests

  • River and coastal flooding - relationships between geomorphology and flooding in rivers and deltas
  • Biogeomorphology - interactions between river processes and life
  • River bank erosion processes

Collaborating research institutes, centres and groups

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