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Bodington Fields

Bodington Fields

Created in partnership with the Environment Agency and Leeds City Council, Bodington Fields demonstrate a variety of the Natural Flood Management (NFM) intervention measures that are being implemented across the Upper Aire Catchment as part of the Leeds Flood Alleviation Scheme.  These interventions are described in more detail below and provide an excellent opportunity for Living Lab research and teaching, as well as improved biodiversity and giving the local community an opportunity to engage with the University.

What is Natural Flood Management?

Natural Flood Management (NFM) refers to the creation, restoration and maintenance of natural processes which help to reduce flood risk.  These measures slow the movement of water across the landscape or store flood water temporarily.  The Bodington Fields site provide an excellent opportunity to demonstrate these interventions and to allow our students to have an enhanced experience by providing a test bed for research development and teaching.

What are the different interventions?

On the Bodington Fields site, there are six key interventions showcased. More information on each of these can be explored below.

1. Leaky Wood Dams

Bodington Fields Runoff Attenuation

Artwork: James McKay

Run off attenuation is a human-made construction that interrupts and reduces the water flow as well as reducing flooding.In this area, we have introduced piles of fallen wood into the stream. This encourages the creation of ‘leaky wood dams’ that slows and reduces the water flow across the site.

The wood dams capture fine sediment and flood material that might otherwise block drains, as well as holding flood water during high rainfall. This approach is sometimes called ‘run off attenuation’.

We are keen to monitor how well this intervention is working.  Please feel free to send us pictures by email to

2. Balancing pond

Bodington Fields Balance Pond Image

Artwork: James McKay

Balancing ponds are created to hold water runoff from rainfall that would otherwise flow very quickly into streams where it would contribute to flooding.

The reed beds in this pond are excellent at taking up many of the pollutants found in urban water runoff. State of the art
instruments measure both the flow of water through the pond and the water quality.

We are keen to monitor how well this intervention is working.  Please feel free to send us pictures by email to

3. Wetland scrapes and cross-track drains

Bodington Fields Wetland Scrapes and Cross-Track Drains Image

Artwork: James McKay

At times of high rainfall, the smooth surfaces of roads and tracks can turn them into temporary rivers.

Water running along roads and tracks can quickly overwhelm local drainage systems and watercourses with water and sediment, leading to flooding and damage.

In this area, we have created shallow dips with gently sloping edges called wetland scrapes, which hold water away from more vulnerable areas. Cross-track drains - shallow dips running across the pathways - encourage surface water to run away from roads and tracks rather than along them.

By slowing and storing the flood water, these measures reduce the risk of flooding whilst also providing a wonderful habitat for wildlife.

4. Wildflower Areas

Bodington Fields Wildflowers Image

Artwork: James McKay

The wildflower areas here have been seeded to produce a rich assortment of flowers that act as a source of food and habitat to attract a wide range of insects.

These insects then provide food for other animals such as birds, frogs and larger animals. The flowers support local pollinator species that will grow and spill over into the surrounding areas, improving the wildlife in local gardens and fields.

Cities are often either very poor in natural habitats where they are replaced by buildings or roads, or contain unusual mixes of plant species that are attractive but have little value to wildlife.

By creating a landscape of natural plants, we hope that Bodington Fields will become a local hotspot for biodiversity that will help to reconnect the surrounding countryside with the rest of the city centre.

5. Overland flow barriers

Bodington Fields Overland Flow Barrier

Artwork: James McKay

The large earthworks you can see here help to trap surface water, creating temporary ponds which store rainwater that would otherwise flow into rivers or onto roads.

The ponds also provide a temporary habitat for lots of wildlife as well as trapping fine sediment and allowing flood water to slowly filter into the underlying soil. Storage of water in soils and groundwater is particularly useful for plants during the summer and in times of drought.

What can you see in this area? Is there any wildlife present that you haven’t seen anywhere else on the site? Let us know by emailing

6. Woodland and tree planting

Bodington Fields Woodland Image

Artwork: James McKay

Trees play an important role in stopping or slowing rainfall before it hits the ground, and making it harder for water to run off into streams. This gives the water time to soak into the soil.

Trees also help to capture and store carbon both in the tree itself and in the surrounding soil, as well as providing a valuable habitat for wildlife.

At Bodington Fields we are testing different woodland management techniques to find out how we can improve the survival of young trees as they develop into a mature woodland. These include plastic and natural tree guards, the use of ‘mulch’ to reduce the growth of other plants around the trees, and fencing to protect them from rabbits.

Biodiversity Monitoring Programme

Bodington Fields offers a unique opportunity to monitor the changes in biodiversity around the site as the natural flood interventions and planting establish themselves.

The University of Leeds biodiversity ambassadors and Student Sustainability Architects are leading on expanding our award winning biodiversity monitoring programme to Bodington Fields.  The programme will be open to students and local residents alike to learn more about biodiversity monitoring and contribute valuable data.

The team are currently recruiting volunteers, if you're interested in getting involved please email

If you want to get involved in our monitoring, please see our guidance sheet on padlet. Additionally, all recordings can be made on our iNaturalist page.

Educational Resources

Created during the Covid-19 pandemic, Hazel Mooney, PhD researcher in the School of Earth and Environment kindly created the video resources below for the local community to use to find out more about trees during her time as a Science and Communications Officer with the United Bank of Carbon (UBoC).

Video 1: Introduction to the role of trees in cities

Video 2: Why are trees so important?

Video 3: Tree activities for children.

Want to find out more?

The Bodington Fields site is open to opportunities to create living lab research projects as well as engaging with people across the city, linking into research and teaching and creating an improved habitat for local wildlife.  If you would like to find out more, please  email


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We use the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) as a framework to guide our activity. Our work on biodiversity is linked to all of the SDGs.

Find out more about our impact on the SDGs.