Natural defences, including planting more trees, could be a solution to the country’s flooding problems, according to new research.
In a study led by the Universities of Birmingham and Southampton, scientists found that planting trees could reduce the height of flooding in towns by up to 20%.
They found strategic planting on flood plains could help towns downstream reduce the “peak height” of floods.
The study for the Environment Agency concludes that trees round a feeder stream can slow the rush of rainwater and save properties from flooding.
There has been a rush of interest in natural methods – planting trees and creating leaky dams which attempt to delay the flow of water by creating mini-floods upstream.
But the report’s authors suggest that most successful natural methods are likely to be on a much larger scale than currently in operation.
They advise a strategic approach – taking a tributary stream to a main river then foresting the area round it, allowing the stream to make its own meanders, and letting dead wood from the forest to block the stream where it will.
A drop of up to 20% in flood maximum can be achieved by doing this over 25-40% of the main catchment, they say.
The environment select committee will produce a report on flood management soon.
Floods minister Rory Stewart said the government was spending more than ever to protect communities and tree planting had a role to play along with improved defences and dredging.
Source: BBC, The Guardian UK