Sustainable Floodplain Management and Restoration LEC.449

This module will introduce a geomorphological approach to sustainable floodplain management and river restoration.

Course Overview

Based on case studies and examples of river restoration projects, the module will be delivered in the context of the developing legislative and policy drivers, eg. the Water Framework Directive (WFD).

The module will cover the impact of land use and land management practices on rivers and how to incorporate flood risk management considerations into successful catchment and river restoration.

It will also include a field trip to visit an example of a restored river system, demonstrating assessment techniques and providing case study material to support the design of a river restoration scheme as part of the assessment.

Who should attend?

The module is particularly relevant to catchment managers and practitioners requiring an understanding of geomorphology and hydromorphology and those who are seeking a more catchment-wide perspective for flood relief planning, WFD related compliance and strategic restoration studies.  

Course outcomes

On completion of this course, delegates will be able to:

  • Determine appropriate hydromorphology for a given river, working with current processes to predict and work with probable river response;
  • Apply a geomorphological approach to sustainable river management;
  • Assess the impact of sustainable river design and management on flood risk management;
  • List the key different river types and describe their impact on river dynamics;
  • Critically evaluate hydro-ecology and hydromorphology assessment and monitoring techniques, when they should be used and their strengths and weaknesses;
  • Design a sustainable river restoration scheme in the context of the latest policy and legislation and taking into account land use within the catchment.

Topics covered

  • Introduction to hydromorphology and policy drives, role of the WFD, river typology and identification, UK and world river types.
  • River dynamics, flow and sediment, conceptual models of river and catchments.
  • Hydro-ecology and hydromorphology assessment techniques (including linked hydromorph-ecological auditing and assessment), applying hydromorphology to case study examples, hydromorphological indicators.
  • River restoration techniques (e.g. floodplain reconnection, deculverting, naturalisation, palaeo channel reconnections), land use and land management impacts on river systems.
  • River and flood plain management and flood risk assessment, the importance of monitoring.


  • Interactive presentations, exercises, worked examples and case studies.
  • Field trip to a restored river system to get hands on experience of assessment techniques and approaches to river restoration design and delivery.
  • Group discussions
  • A comprehensive set of course notes and learning resources will be provided.


Matthew Hemsworth BSc MSc FRGS MCIWEM C.WEM

Matt is a Hydromorphologist and leads the Fluvial Geomorphology team at JBA. His specialist areas are in fluvial geomorphology and fluvial hydraulic and sediment modelling. Matt has developed numerous river restoration schemes throughout the UK and Ireland that work with natural processes to fulfil multiple local and WFD targets. He is an experienced trainer and has delivered bespoke training courses to the Environment Agency and other external parties for fluvial geomorphology/hydromorphology and hydraulic modelling.

Kieran Sheehan BSc (Hons) MSc CEnv PGCE MCIEEM MIfL

Kieran is a phytosociologist with an expertise in upland, grassland and wetland ecosystems. He is the Lead Ecologist at JBA. Kieran was Course Manager and taught on the University of Hull Wildlife and Countryside Conservation degree courses and is currently involved in research on the cultural landscape of the Humberhead Levels.