Changes in rural land use to reduce flood risk are encouraged by governments in many countries, but they may face considerable opposition by land managers. Local participative processes are thought to help overcome opposition. This article presents an evaluation of an intensive participative process set up between land managers and governmental agencies following two severe floods in the transboundary Bowmont-Glen catchment in Scotland and England. A combination of interviews and documentary analysis is used. The research demonstrates that the participative process contributed to greater uptake of rural land use change and improved compliance with existing environmental policies. There were nevertheless low levels of social learning amongst participants. Two institutional designs for improving policy implementation are presented.