Following the increasing rainfall of recent weeks, it has been suggested that the planting of more trees could reduce the likelihood of Londoners experiencing flash flooding.
Karen Russell, a member of assembly at the London Green Party, has suggested that the answer to London’s flash flooding problem, is to plant more trees.
Heavy rainfall in 2014 resulted in the use of all London Fire Brigade’s high-pressure water pumps preventing 50,000 homes in Croydon from having their water supplies contaminated, driving home the fact, 140,000 Londoners are at high risk of surface water flooding if we get heavy rainfall.
Russell has suggested that the planting of street trees with special pits that take the water run-off from roads or car parks, alongside the restoration of riverbanks with vegetation and tens of thousands of trees along London’s 13 river catchments, could hold back and delay rising waters from flooding adjacent homes. Water soaks into the ground 60 times faster where trees are planted. Plants, twigs and animals in natural rivers slow the flow of water, stopping flash floods. Russell argues that people underestimate the importance of trees.
There are many benefits associated with the upkeep of street trees. Evidence suggests that asthma rates among children are significantly lower in areas with more street trees. But the choice of tree species has a large influence on the potential for capturing pollutants, as does the size of the tree. Large canopies can remove many times more particulates than small ones.
The new Mayor has expressed wishes to plant two million trees by 2020 and to make London the first National Park City. Russell hopes this will formulate into coherent, funded plans to fulfil them in the places where they make a difference.
Russell stresses the importance of better protecting our mature street trees, as she believes they are every bit as important a part of our infrastructure as railways and sewers, and we should therefore invest in them accordingly.