This research emphasises the importance of informal/local/lay flood knowledges, flood memories and shared flood histories/heritage in developing community resilience to flooding. How do these knowledges relate to communities’ capacities to prepare for, and recover from, extreme floods? This question requires urgent response, given recent extreme floods in the Severn catchment (2007),
Morpeth (2008), and Cumbria (2009). We present a novel framework for flood research with integrated stakeholder engagement, and outline initial research outcomes from an interdisciplinary UK Economic and Social Research Council-funded research project. The project proposes the concept of ‘sustainable flood memory’ for effective flood risk management. ‘Sustainable flood memory’ is conceived as community focused, archival, integrating individual and collective experiences of local flood histories, involving inter- (vertical) and intra- generational (horizontal)
communication, and strategies for its future. It thereby fathoms the creative tension between memories of past events and their role in a changing socioeconomic and hydrological environment. The project aims to increase understanding of how flood memories of these local flood histories provide a platform, creating social learning opportunities that can increase communities’ adaptive
capacities and flood resilience. Working closely with a stakeholder competency group, the project explores: how communities remember and archive flood experiences; how local flood knowledge is materialised, assimilated and protected; the role of catastrophic floods (e.g. July 2007, River Severn, UK) in building ‘community’ memory and flood risk knowledge; and whether informal knowledge can be transmitted, developed, revitalised and returned in settings where it is lost or lacking.