Mhari Barnes

‌‌Mhari Barnes -


 Mhari Barnes Personal Image


PhD Title:

Will Catchment Scale Afforestation for Mitigating Flooding Significantly Reduce Water Resource Availability and Productive Farmland?


PhD Project Details:

After the 2013-14 floods in the UK there were calls to ‘forest the uplands’ as a solution to reducing flood risk across the nation.  At present, 1 in 6 homes in Britain are at risk of flooding and current EU legislation demands a sustainable, green-engineering solution.  However, the role of forests as a natural flood management technique remains highly controversial, due to a distinct lack of robust evidence into its effectiveness in reducing flood risk during extreme events.  Furthermore, there is a need to analyse the extent to which land management practices, and the installation of runoff attenuation features (RAFs), such as woody debris dams, in headwater catchments can attenuate flood-wave movement, and potentially reduce downstream flood risk.


This project aims to improve understanding of the impacts of upland afforestation on both water resources and flood risk at the national and local catchment scales.  This will be achieved through an integrated fieldwork and modelling approach, with the use of a series of process based hydrological and hydrodynamic models to scale up and examine the effects forestry can have on flooding from catchment to national scale.  The project will define the proportion of a catchment or riparian reach that would need to be forested in order to achieve a significant impact on downstream flooding.  Additionally, the consequential impacts of a corresponding reduction in agriculturally productive farmland and the potential decline of water resource availability will need to be considered in order to safeguard the UK’s food security and satisfy the somewhat insatiable global demand on water resources.



Dr James Bathurst

Dr Paul Quinn



University of Dundee



SAgE Faculty


Related Outputs:

Kirkbride, M. P., Mitchell, W. A. & Barnes, M. (2015) Reconstruction and Regional Significance of the Coire Breac Palaeoglacier, Glen Esk, Eastern Grampian Highlands, Scotland, Geografiska Annaler: Series A, Physical Geography.



Mhari completed an MSc in Catchment Hydrology and Management at the University of Dundee, where her main interests were in physical and numerical hydrology specialising in natural flood management, water resources and hydrometry.  She commenced her PhD in September 2014.


Her personal web-site is -