Ever since Storm Desmond wreaked havoc across Cumbria in 2015, campaigners have called for thousands of trees to be planted to help prevent a repeat of the flooding that devastated so many communities. However, scientists are now questioning the effectiveness of natural flood damage defence schemes, reports ITV Border on 15 March 2017.
Extreme flooding likely to overwhelm natural defences
A Royal Society report published today says initiatives such as planting trees and creating wetlands are not “a silver bullet” for stopping flooding.
It warns that a lack of monitoring of existing schemes means their potential is unclear, and the hope they could stop the worst floods is not backed by evidence. Its Lead author Dr Simon Dadson, of the University of Oxford commented: “Our analysis showed that trees can help with minor flooding and improve the condition of the soil, but any extreme weather will soon saturate the ground and they cannot be relied on to defend communities.”
He warned that some extreme flooding, such as that caused when Storm Desmond hit parts of the UK in December 2015, could be “simply overwhelming” in the future.
Natural flood defences bring other benefits
Cumbrian-based Professor Louise Heathwaite, of Lancaster University:
“We must not lose sight of the long-term benefits for our landscapes for storing carbon, reducing soil erosion and boosting wildlife, together with the fabulous efforts of local communities to work together to increase their resilience to local flooding.
Peter Leeson, of the Woodlands Trust, the charity which has been involved in several schemes to plant thousands of trees including the planting of 126 hectares on Tebay Fell, admitted that tree planting was not a solution to flooding, but said it had to be “part of the mix”.
“The way the fells have been managed in recent years means they do not deal with water particularly well. There is a lack of complexity in the vegetation and the friction that vegetation creates and the ground has been compacted by animals.
“Tree planting will make a difference and have many other benefits such as providing shade for rivers which is important to control temperatures and protect fish,” he said.
What to do if you experience flood damage
While flood defence experts will debate the issues surrounding flood damage and mitigation, in the event that you experience flood damage in the home, or at your business premises, your best course of action is to seek the advice of nationwide flood restoration specialists, like Rainbow International. If not handled by flood restoration experts, the process can have serious consequences for the structure and integrity of your property. Rainbow International have 65 branches spread across the UK which means they are never more than 23 miles from any incident. Contact them now to access their 24 hour helpline or click here to find your local branch.