Planting productive woodland in specific areas of the UK could reduce the risk of flooding, according to a report published this week.
The report, from Forest Research and Scottish timber trade body Confor, claims that forests and woodland can reduce flooding in several ways: the greater water use of trees reduces flood volumes; the higher infiltration rates of woodland soils reduces rapid surface run-off of water, reducing flood generation; and trees protect soil from erosion, decreasing the amount of sediment going into watercourses and reducing the need for dredging.
“Society is increasingly threatened by flooding while the water environment remains seriously impacted by a range of human pressures,” said the report. “There is strong evidence to support woodland creation in appropriate locations to help manage these issues.”
UK Minister for water, forestry, rural affairs and resource management, Dan Rogerson MP, said: “The report is a timely reminder to us all that our woodlands are far more than just something attractive to look at.
“These national assets generate considerable economic and environmental benefits through their unique ability to deliver a wide range of ecosystem services, such as timber, woodfuel, carbon storage, enhanced water quality, water and soil regulation and, of course, valuable habitats for wildlife.
“This report highlights how by making sure that the right trees are planted in the right place, forestry can deliver significant benefits for water quality.”
Confor chief executive Stuart Goodall added: “This is a landmark piece of research which highlights the potentially significant contribution of productive woodland to flood mitigation. This has not been well-understood in the past but this report shows productive species in the right places can make a real difference.”