New bursary for Masters research on Natural Flood Management

A new annual bursary has been set up to support Masters students investigating natural flood management at the School of Geography, University of Leeds. The Bursary is named in recognition of the work of the founder of Treesponsibility and The Source Partnership, Penny Eastwood, otherwise known as Dongria Kondh.  Students will work under the supervision of water@leeds’ Dr Megan Klaar and Dr Richard Grayson.

The bursary, funded by Calderdale Council, the Environment Agency, National Trust and Slow The Flow will support up to two students per year. The first bursary has been awarded to Sophie Tankard, who is already studying the effects of natural flood management in a small catchment at Hardcastle Crags, after being inspired by her previous volunteer work with Slow The Flow.

As part of her Masters by Research degree, Sophie will analyse the effectiveness of the natural flood interventions which have already been installed in the Calder Valley. She will build upon research into natural flood management by water@leeds, who have been working in the Calder Valley and across Yorkshire to turn research into action via the Yorkshire Integrated Catchment Solutions Programme (iCASP).

Dr Megan Klaar, Sophie’s supervisor in water@leeds said ‘this bursary will be a wonderful boost for talented students such as Sophie, enabling them to make meaningful contributions in our approach to creating a more sustainable environment.’

This research will also help continue Penny Eastwood’s focus on fighting climate change in the Calder Valley.  Penny has been a pioneer and activist in fighting the effects of climate change for the past 30 years.   She is best known in Calderdale as a founding member of Treesponsibility, a not for profit community group which has planted over 250,000 trees since its formation in 1998.  Penny also founded The Source Partnership and works with major statutory organisations like The Environment Agency, Calderdale Council and Yorkshire Water as well as charitable organisations like Slow The Flow and other local groups to promote and utilise Natural Flood Management techniques.

Sophie Tankard, who will receive the first bursary, said: ‘I feel very lucky to be selected as the first recipient of this bursary. This will help me fund my course costs and will allow me to create a project in collaboration with Slow the Flow. I am deeply humbled to be selected for the Penny Eastwood bursary and I hope to create informative research for Slow the Flow.’

Penny Eastwood said, “My hope is that the recipients of this bursary will find their own path towards bringing about a sustainable future, and that their research into Natural Flood Management will help to protect the valley I love.”

Bede Mullen, Chair of Slow The Flow, said, ‘It’s great to see this annual bursary in natural flood management established. It will help to demonstrate the effectiveness of such measures to reduce the impact of flooding in the Calder valley and beyond. Sophie is an ideal first recipient of this bursary, as she was inspired by working as a volunteer with Slow The Flow in Hardcastle Crags.

Sally Keling, Flood Risk Advisor, Environment Agency said, “We are very pleased to continue our support for partnership work at Hardcastle Crags with funding for masters student bursaries to help develop the evidence base for natural flood management. Penny has been a fantastic catalyst for positive change in the Calder Valley and we really want to celebrate everything she has achieved.”

If you are interested in discussing topics for research on Natural Flood Management contact water@leeds.ac.uk.

Thank you to Stuart Bradshaw who is a trustee at Slow The Flow, for the above photographs taken during work at Hardcastle Crags.