TWO nature-based projects are taking place in Cornwall to improve climate and flooding resilience. 

Tackling Climate Change - Flood Prevention Project (TCC) is a project pioneered by Climate Vision and involves residents, farmers, businesses and government authorities. 

Luci Isaacson, director of Climate Vision, said: “Through the support of private investment into on-farm, nature-based solutions, our soil testing has revealed this innovative trial project has sequestered 17.84 tonnes of carbon in one year (13%), a significant leap from the (0-5%) increase that was expected in year one, providing ground-breaking insights into a net zero future, while tackling flooding, soil health and sustainable farming practices.

"The Government recognize how private investment can help fund a range of what is known as ‘ecosystem services’, such as flood management and providing for bees - here we can provide evidence and data to support that pathway, while inspiring Cornish companies to actively work on reducing their environmental footprint."

One of the projects is taking place at Tregoad Holiday Park, near Looe. They invested £2,500 to sow herbal ley seeds at Higher Kestle Farm, St Ewe, and these grew during the drought of 2022. 

According to the Westcountry Rivers Trust (WRT), herbal ley, with its deep roots, brings numerous benefits, particularly in mitigating flooding by holding rainfall in its growth while enhancing soil and animal health.

South West Farmer: Martyn Alvey, Cabinet Member for Environment and Climate Change, in the herbal ley field.Martyn Alvey, Cabinet Member for Environment and Climate Change, in the herbal ley field. (Image: West Country Rivers Trust)

Richard Lobb, from Higher Kestle Farm, said: “We hosted three events at the farm to show people what we have done for natural flood management.

“It was nice to see people cheered up by our story after Luci told them straight about climate change but in a way that inspired them to do something, hopefully buying our seasonal food at the shop.”

More than 125 people took part in the events at Higher Kestle Farm and the SW Climate Change Centre field trips. 

The project has been supported by the UK government through the UK Shared Prosperity Fund.

A second Natural Flood Management scheme is currently taking place in the Mevagissey area of Cornwall, and is led by the WRT. 

The Climate Resilient Mevagissey (CRM) project is funded by Defra's Natural Flood Management Programme and works alongside the community, farmers, the Environment Agency (EA), Climate Vision, Cornwall Council, and the University of Plymouth. 

CEO at WRT, Dr Laurence Couldrick, said: “Mevagissey is a steep-sided rapid-response catchment which has flooded 27 times since 1960, most significantly in 2010 when more than 70 homes and businesses were flooded.

“Flooding can occur within an hour of peak rainfall, which is why our project is designed to slow, move and store water through soil management and nature-based solutions.

“This builds on important past work and relationships in the area, as well as integrating with existing projects such as Resilient Catchment Communities funded through the Shared Prosperity Fund.”

Scale and density for change will be monitored through the EA’s flow gauge station on the Mevagissey Stream.

Simon Jeffery, senior advisor with the EA’s (West) Flood and Coastal Risk Management, Partnership and Strategic Overview Team, added: “With climate change forecast to bring warmer, wetter winters, along with an increased risk of localised intense summer rainfall, this project aims to demonstrate how a whole catchment-based approach can support community resilience.

“We look forward to working with our partners, communities, and landowners to monitor changes to catchment health and river flows upstream – particularly the scale, duration and frequency of high river flows, and will gather local data, monitoring improvements at a catchment scale and tracking soil health and habitat improvements.

“The aim is that in addition to improvements for Mevagissey, the EA will be able to use the evidence to demonstrate how a catchment-based approach can be applied in the South West and provide evidence as part of research across the wider Natural Flood Management Programme.”

People living in the catchment will be encouraged to volunteer as part of the project, including through citizen science.

The project is one of 20 across seven River Trusts awarded funding from Defra’s £25m Natural Flood Management programme for nature interventions to protect communities at risk of flooding, as well as improving biodiversity and habitat.