Plant more trees to reduce flood risk landowners told

Wednesday 30th Mar 2011 by theWeatherclub

UK flood protection has been in the news recently with flood defences and warning systems being unveiled in various parts of the country. These have been highly technical and very expensive affairs, with the whole weight of 21st century technology being pitted against the oncoming waters.

Now a new and rather less high tech approach is being tried. The Forestry Commission has offered financial support to encourage landowners in North Yorkshire to plant more trees. Along with the Environment Agency, they have used hi-tech mapping technology to identify areas where tree planting could alleviate the severity of flooding either downstream of a new planting or in the immediate area.

Experts have said trees can have many beneficial effects when it comes to flood mitigation. Groups of trees can act as a physical barrier by absorbing rising waters. They also help prevent soil erosion which is a major cause of increased water flow rates which can lead to flooding. Trees also help reduce sediment going into rivers thereby keeping the river channels deep, and their root systems help increase water absorption into the ground.

Jeremy Dick, from the Forestry Commission, said they had learnt a great deal from a pilot scheme in Pickering – also in Yorkshire - and hoped to expand it into even more areas. "We know that this method can help manage flood risk," he explained. "For the past two years we have worked on a project in Pickering which has helped refine techniques."

Andrew McDermott, who has been appointed as a project officer for the new scheme called New woods, said: "Whilst trees cannot stop flooding, they can slow the rate at which rainwater runs off into swollen streams and rivers, reducing peak flood levels and buying valuable time." Mr McDermott added that the scheme can also offer landowners additional income. He said: "New woods will also provide wildlife habitats and offer landowners future income from timber harvesting. This is a really big attraction as demand for timber is increasing, especially for wood fuel."

So more planting more trees will make your land more beautiful, diversify your habitat, make you money and keep the flood waters at bay. I suspect the landowners of the region are lining up as we speak.