A successful bid for £700K means that more than 300,000 more trees will now be planted in the River Aire catchment area to help reduce flood risk.
The extra government funding has been awarded to Leeds City Council’s Flood Alleviation Scheme (FAS) which includes natural flood management (NFM) as a major element to help protect the people of Leeds and those living near the River Aire from the risk of flooding. The Leeds FAS is led by Leeds Council working alongside the Environment Agency.
The bid, which will fund 333,333 trees, was made to the Partnership Innovation Fund (PIF), a programme managed by national charity the Woodland Trust to enable the creation of new woodland in the Northern Forest through the planting of one million trees by 30 March 2022.
The Partnership Innovation Fund is part of a £5.7m grant awarded by Defra to the Woodland Trust in 2018 to help kick-start delivery of the Northern Forest in partnership with the four northern Community Forests.
The first few thousand trees in the Leeds City Council project were planted this winter past, a further 75,000 are planned by 31 March 2021 and 253,333 by the end of March 2022. At least 148ha of new woodland near the River Aire will be created through the project. When the tree planting starts it will be carried out in line with the latest government advice and guidelines on social distancing to ensure that members of the public and workers remain safe.
Nick Sellwood, Northern Forest oroject manager for the Woodland Trust says: “We very much welcome the huge ambition shown by Leeds City Council to take a truly catchment scale approach to natural flood management, recognising the important contribution trees and woodlands can make to this issue while at the same time improving biodiversity and tackling climate change.”
The ambition of phase two of the Leeds Flood Alleviation Scheme is to work with natural processes to reduce flood risk across the catchment and so ultimately to provide increased resilience to climate change for Leeds.
A flagship Natural Flood Management (NFM) programme, alongside traditional engineering, forms part of the second phase of the Leeds Flood Alleviation Scheme. This phase got underway this year and aims to invest £112.1m in flood prevention measures for areas upstream of Leeds city centre, to better protect 1,048 homes and 474 businesses. During this second phase two million trees will be planted.
The NFM element is transformational in scale working with nature to reduce the risk of flooding across the catchment from the source of the River Aire, at Malham, through to Leeds City Centre. The programme will not only reduce flow of water from upstream so the landscape can hold more water in times of flood but also restore and create new habitat, increase biodiversity resilience and improve water quality. As well as tree and hedge planting, it includes re-channelling rivers to their natural courses, soil aeration, wetland creation and moorland restoration all of which have lots of benefits for people and wildlife. This will contribute to delivering the Government’s 25 Year Environment Plan and realising the vision of the Northern Forest in the Aire catchment.