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Durham University research on how diffuse pollution is connected across river catchments has been used to improve catchment management by a wide range of regulatory bodies, NGOs, and user groups in England, Wales and overseas.


Evidence of diffuse pollution issues in rivers can build consensus among stakeholders and target specific interventions.



Geographers at Durham University developed a software package, SCIMAP (Sensitive Catchment Integrated Modelling And Prediction) which is distinct from other ways of modelling connectivity and pollution by emphasising relative risk, based on sources and network structure.

Stakeholders were closely involved during all stages of the model development and application process.



SCIMAP has become a standard tool for catchment management across all 46 River Trusts in England and Wales.

SCIMAP has also become a key modelling tool within the Catchment Partnerships in all 100+ catchments across England and cross-border with Wales as part of Defra’s Catchment-Based Approach (CaBA) programme.

The National Trust is using SCIMAP to identify erosion risk and fine sediment connectivity across all 41 catchments in its northern region, and to produce catchment management plans. After Storm Desmond hit the UK in 2015 SCIMAP was used to provide evidence of erosion potential across 30 National Trust properties in the Lake District. This enabled mitigation actions such as tree planting and closing areas to the public.

SCIMAP is available on the Environment Agency central modelling platform. Natural England has used SCIMAP to improve the management of freshwater Natura 2000 sites within England.

More information 

Institution: Durham University 

Researchers: Dr Sim M. Reaney, Professor Stuart Lane, Dr David Milledge

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Royal Geographical Society (with IBG) (2023) Evidence-based catchment management with SCIMAP. Available at  Last accessed on: <date>