Skip to main content
Contact Us

Project Manager for Hydrology, Natural Flood Management
Huw conducts research into Natural Flood Management and to educate and promote the use of NFM as an alternative and sustainable approach to flood alleviation.

He also represents the Forestry Commission at various meetings involved in flood defence, river basin planning and land use management.

Huw’s roles include applying hydrological and 1D/2D hydraulic river models to assess the effect of NFM on flooding and the contribution of woodland to flood alleviation.

Huw is exploring field-based methods of measuring how catchment, riparian and floodplain woodland can contribute to flood risk reduction. He works alongside colleagues to deliver Forest Research’s GIS-based approach of Opportunity Mapping to identify opportunities for woodland planting and other natural flood management measures.

He has developed strong links with a number of floodplain woodland/river restoration schemes and has helped establish and advise on a number of catchment-based NFM projects in the UK.

Huw gained his first degree in Environmental Earth Science in 1999 at the University of Wales, Aberystwyth and MSc in Environmental Water Management at the University of Cranfield, Silsoe in 2000. He joined Forest Research in 2003, previously working for the Environment Agency and a private engineering consultancy firm. He now specialises in hydrology and Natural Flood Management (NFM).

  • Hydraulic and hydrological impact of woodland restoration on floodplains
  • Restoration of large woody debris dams into watercourses
  • Educating and promoting the use of floodplain woodland as a sustainable approach to flood defence and alleviation
  • Forestry Commission representative at meetings involved in flood defence, river basin planning and land use management.


  • Qualified PRINCE2 Practitioner
  • Member of the Chartered Institute of Water and Environmental Management (CIWEM)
Project Manager, Hydrologist
Physical environmental sciences

Forest Research

Talybont Research Office

Cefn Gethiniog



Powys LD3 7YN


Related Research


Forest Hydrology Research Programme

Rationale, approach and students of the Forest Hydrology Research Programme

Status current
Opportunity mapping - targeting woodland creation for water objectives

Opportunity mapping has been developed to help identify these locations and promote more integrated catchment management.

Forestry and Natural Flood Management

Current research into the role of forestry in natural flood management

Related Publications


Acetamiprid used to prevent Hylobius abietis damaging young trees poses a very low risk of causing water contamination provided good forestry practices are followed

A study of chemical runoff following the use of acetamiprid as a pre-treatment and top-up spray to prevent damage from the large pine weevil (Hylobius abietis L.) to young trees was undertaken at a restock site in mid-Wales. The site was specifically selected to pose a high risk of chemical runoff, being a high elevation, […]



Final report on assessment of the risk of chemical runoff following use of Gazelle SG as a pre-treatment and top-up spray in forestry

Standard, good forestry practice measures were proven to be effective in preventing contamination of stream waters in a detailed study of acetamiprid runoff following the use of Gazelle SG as a pre-treatment and top-up spray in forestry undertaken at Esgair Gors in mid-Wales. Despite progress in the development of non-chemical methods for controlling the large […]

Opportunities to use woodland measures for Natural Flood Management in Whinlatter Forest: Scoping Report

The Forest Design Plan for Whinlatter is currently under review and a new aspirations map has been produced. This includes measures such as habitat creation and proposed extensions to the mountain bike trail network. In addition to these proposals, measures to reduce the community flood risk have been considered; such as soft engineering features (leaky […]

Valuing flood regulation services of existing forest cover to inform natural capital accounts

Background Forests are recognised to reduce flood flows, although the issue is complex and continues to be explored. While the processes of how trees affect the generation and conveyance of flood waters are understood, there remains a lack of monitoring data to quantify effects at the catchment scale (click here to visit the WWNP evidence base webpage). […]

Restoring floodplain woodland for flood alleviation

By Tom Nisbet and Huw Thomas. Final Report for Defra Project SLD2316 – a study designed to evaluate and demonstrate the contribution of floodplain woodland to flood alleviation. Related pages Forest hydrology Soil sustainability

Other Research

  • Slowing the Flow in Pickering : Hydrologist
  • Strathard Ecosystem Services Project : Hydrologist
  • Opportunity Mapping for Woodland Planting to Reduce Flood Risk in Northern Ireland : Project leader

Peer reviewed journal articles

Thomas, H., Nisbet, T. R. (2016) Slowing the flow in pickering: quantifying the effect of catchment woodland planting on flooding using the soil conservation service curve number method. International Journal of Safety and Security Engineering 6(3): 466 – 474.

Thomas, H. and Nisbet, T.R. (2012). Modelling the hydraulic impact of reintroducing large woody debris into watercourses. Journal of Flood Risk Management 5 (2): 164–174

Nisbet, T.R., Thomas, H. and Shah, N. (2011). Short Rotation Forestry and Water in McKay, H. (ed.) (2011). Short Rotation Forestry: review of growth and environmental impacts (PDF-3255K). Forest Research Monograph, 2, Forest Research, Surrey, pp13-34.

C A M E Wilson, Xavier, P, Schoneboom T, Lammeranner W, Rauch H. P, Aberle, J., Weissteiner, C., Thomas H., 2010. The Hydrodynamic Drag of Full Scale Trees. River Flow 2010


Nisbet, T.R., Roe, P., Marrington, S., Thomas, H., Broadmeadow, S., and Valatin, G. (2015). Slowing the Flow at Pickering, Final Report: Phase II. Final report for the Department of environment, food and rural affairs (Defra), Project RMP5455. Defra, London

Broadmeadow, S., Thomas, H., Shah, N and Nisbet, T.R. (2013). Opportunity mapping for woodland creation to improve water quality and reduce flood risk in the River Tay catchment – a pilot for Scotland. Final Report to FC Scotland and SEPA, 40 pp.

Broadmeadow, S., Thomas, H. and Nisbet, T.R. (2013). Yorkshire & North East England Woodland for Water Project, Phase 1: Opportunity mapping. Final Report to the Environment Agency, 56 pp.

Broadmeadow, S., Thomas, H. and Nisbet, T.R. (2012). Midlands Woodland for Water Project, Phase 1: Opportunity mapping. Final Report to the Environment Agency, 101 pp.

Nisbet, T.R., Marrington, S. Thomas, H., Broadmeadow, S. and Valatin, G. (2011). Slowing the flow at Pickering. Final Report to Defra, 28pp.