Trees must feature in flood defence strategies

Glendale is calling on the Government and landowners to invest in planting trees to reduce the threat of flooding in high-risk areas across the UK.

Glendale, which specialises in the management and maintenance of the green environment, believes trees have a critical role to play in preventing a repeat of the floods which devastated the south west of England in 2014.

When placed along riverbanks, trees help slow the water into the river, reducing pressure on any existing flood defences, while acting as a natural ‘barrier’ to hold back eroded banks.

Research also shows that water sinks into the soil under trees at 67 times the rate at which it sinks into the soil under grass because tree roots transform the ground in a spongy reservoir which absorbs water and releases it slowly.

Millions of pounds worth of damage was caused by the severe floods that hit the south west in 2014, and again in the North West in December 2015, and Glendale wants to see a long-term investment into trees as a natural solution to flood management.

Terry Doyle, regional director for Glendale in the south west, said: “Flooding has become one of the nation’s most challenging and costly dangers, but in order to prevent similar disasters occuring we need to work with nature, not against it.  The creation and management of trees and woodland is vital to effective flood defence strategies and Government funding strategies need to reflect this. 

“The idea is that trees work alongside existing engineered flood defences, which will lose their effectiveness over time.  As a sustainable and effective approach to flood management, we believe tree planting projects to this effect should be implemented across the UK, particularly when taking into account our increasingly changing climate. 

“There are also long-term benefits for the environment, which could include improved water quality, contributions to biodiversity conservation, storing carbon, and the creation of habitats where wildlife can thrive.  Restoring a river’s natural flood defences must be considered a priority to bring about social, economic and environmental benefits across the UK. 

“Landowners need to act now to ensure there is time to plan out the next project and that any funding is available is obtained before the start of the next planting season.”