Tree-planting programmes “can both reduce flood risk and improve the environment”, Defra secretary Elizabeth Truss told the House of Commons recently
In a parliamentary debate on response to the flooding in north-west England on Monday 7 December, Truss was asked by Berwick-upon-Tweed MP and vice chair of the All Party Parliamentary Group on Forestry Anne-Marie Trevelyan:
“Will the Secretary of State consider, as a matter of urgency, increasing the number of trees we plan to plant during this Parliament from 11 million, which equates to only one tree for every five people, to some 200 million, which equates to five trees for every person?”
She added that these “would cover some 50,000 hectares, much of which could be in the upland areas of river basins, to help nature to hold water and to reduce the risk of flooding in the long term”.
To which Truss replied: “I completely agree with her about looking at the environment on a catchment level and making sure that we put in place tree-planting programmes that can both reduce flood risk and improve the environment at the same time.”
Stuart Goodall, chief executive of forestry and wood trade body Confor, said: “The terrible floods, especially in Cumbria, demonstrate that Government has to look at more than just flood defences.
“We need to hold rainwater in the hills so that the peak flow of water is reduced, helping flood defences to do their job. Planting productive forests manages water flow, while also helping wildlife, providing alternative income for farmers and locking up carbon.”