The potential of tree and hedgerow planting to reduce the frequency and impact of flood events in the UKDr William Stiles: IBERS, Aberystwyth Un...The potential of tree and hedgerow planting to reduce the frequency and impact of flood events in the UK
Dr William Stiles: IBERS, Aberystwyth University.
The potential for flood events is increased by current agricultural management practices and climate change.
Planting trees and hedgerows can significantly increase water infiltration rate into soil and storage thereafter.
This reduces the potential for surface runoff and overland flow, which is key factor in reducing flood peaks.
Flooding has become a serious problem for the UK in recent years, with episodes of severe flooding, formerly rare events, now increasingly commonplace. In response, substantial effort has been invested into research to determine the factors contributing to this effect to allow suitable management strategies to be implemented.
The principal factors which are accepted to increase the risk of flooding in the UK are climate change and current agricultural land management approaches. Projections for environmental change in the UK indicate that extreme weather events are likely to increase in frequency. Rainfall patterns in particular are expected to change, with high deluge events predicted to become more regular and more severe, leading to increased chance of flood events. In addition to this, land management changes as part of the drive towards agricultural intensification in the latter half of the 20th century, has driven increases in land drainage, livestock stocking densities, and the removal of hedgerows, to create larger more simplified field systems. This in turn has resulted in substantial modification of the UK landscape.