Huw Thomas, BSc, MSc

Project Manager, Hydrologist

Huw Thomas


Tel: +44 (0)7810 863799

Forest Research
Talybont Research Office
Cefn Gethiniog
Powys LD3 7YN

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).

Current role

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.

Current projects

  • 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

Affiliations and responsibilities

  • Qualified PRINCE2 Practitioner
  • Member of the Chartered Institute of Water and Environmental Management (CIWEM)

Research/work areas

  • 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.  

Main recent publications and knowledge exchange activities

Peer reviewed papers

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.