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Planting More Trees Can Help To Prevent Flooding

Many towns and villages around the world are at risk from flooding. In the U.K., each winter brings new risks for towns built upon flood plains, partly a consequence of longer term climatic changes.

While various measures are being considered to reduce the risk of flooding, one way might be, according to the British government’s Environment Agency, is to plant more trees. Tree planting measures, says a new report, could reduce the risk of flooding up to 20 percent.

The report is based on research conducted at the universities of Birmingham and Southampton. It sees tree planting a measure to help protect locales at risk of heavy rain where the use of walls of concrete cannot be used.

The planting of trees is part of a philosophy called “rewiding”. This type of conservation biology means restoring and protecting natural processes and core wilderness areas.

Commenting on the proposal Simon Dixon, who is from Birmingham University’s Institute for Forest Research, told BBC Science:

“Where it’s possible to do more extensive planting than we’re doing we really need to do it. It’s a bit of a no-brainer.”

In related news, two new projects have received a share of £2 million, provided by the U.K. government, for research to help combat threats to trees and plants as part of the Tree Health and Plant Biosecurity Initiative (THAPBI).

The projects are:

  1. Global threats from Phytophthora spp,: understanding drivers of emergence and opportunities for mitigation through nursery best practice – Led by Dr Sarah Green, Forest Research.

Phytophthora kernoviae is a fungus-like pathogen that affects the aerial parts of the trees and shrubs that it infects. It is causing serious damage to many British trees.

  1. PuRpOsE: Protect Oak Ecosystems: understanding and forecasting causes and consequences, management for future climates – Led by Dr Rob Jackson, University of Reading.

The second project is concerned with protecting oak trees.

Both are aimed at dealing with harmful pathogens that affect trees. Commenting on the research projects, Universities and Science Minister Jo Johnson stated:

“This £2 million investment in Britain’s pioneering plant science will enable scientists to find new ways to tackle pests and diseases that are a real threat to our environment and global food security.”

About the author

Tim Sandle

Dr. Tim Sandle is a chartered biologist and holds a first class honours degree in Applied Biology; a Masters degree in education; and has a doctorate from Keele University.