Confor and Woodland Trust call for meeting on floods

CONFOR and The Woodland Trust have written a joint letter to the Secretary of State for the Environment to highlight the long-term opportunities for tree-planting to help reduce the threat of floods.

The letter to Elizabeth Truss MP - from Confor Chief Executive Stuart Goodall and The Woodland Trust CEO Beccy Speight - recognises that the immediate priority is to support people affected by the devastating floods.

The two organisations stress that they want to "help shape the UK's long-term approach to the problem of flooding". The letter continues: "Tree planting can contribute to reducing peak flows as part of a package of measures to reduce the threat of flooding - as well as improving water quality."

Confor and The Woodland Trust suggest they could work with the newly-created Cumbrian Floods Partnership - headed up by Rory Stewart MP, whose portfolio includes both forestry and flooding - and have asked to meet Elizabeth Truss and the Partnership as soon as possible. The letter has also been sent to Rory Stewart, Oliver Letwin MP - who heads the Government's overall response to the floods - as well as The Environment Agency, Forestry Commission England and other key players. 

Stuart Goodall said: "The terrible floods have demonstrated 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." 

In March 2015, Confor and Forest Research published T​he Role of Productive Woodlands in Water Management, ​a detailed report which demonstrates how productive woodlands can reduce flood risk and protect British waterways. 

Conservative MP Anne ­Marie Trevelyan, Vice-chair of the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Forestry, has suggested greatly enhanced tree planting - up to 200 million trees during the lifetime of the current UK Parliament - to reduce the threat of floods.

Confor and The Woodland Trust joined forces in November to call on the government to commit to planting planting 7000 hectares (ha) of woodland every year until 2020 (around 15 million trees per year) and then to increase that to 10,000 ha per year when the next Government is elected in 2020.