Parliamentary Group Discuss the Role of Trees in Flood Prevention

English parliament

Parliamentary Group Discuss the Role of Trees in Flood Prevention

English parliament

Parliamentary copyright images are reproduced with the permission of Parliament


On 2nd February, ICF Policy and Development Officer Alex McAuley attended the Forestry All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPGF) meeting in Westminster, which focussed on the role of trees in flood prevention. Confor, who provide sectretariat for the group, presented their updated discussion paper, Forestry and Flooding.

APPGF Discussions

Confor’s Technical Director, Andrew Heald MICFor and Tom Nisbet of Forest Research explained the science behind the role of trees in flood management. Central to the discussions, was the assertion that planting of trees in upland/marginal areas can have an impact on water retention and downstream flow within in year.

Points made at the APPGF were:

  • Tree planting is more cost effective, as a long term package to prevent further flooding, compared to highly engineered solutions
  • There should be an emphasis on integrated land use management. With the decline in agricultural subsidies, there is clear opportunity for professional foresters to work closely with the agricultural community, to sustainably develop upland areas
  • The Government needs to look at innovative financial measures that incentivise farmers to plant trees in places that can reduce water flow and help protect valuable topsoil as well as reduce flood risk
  • An endorsement of Ann Marie-Trevelyan’s request that tree planting targets should be increased from 11 million to 200 million trees by 2020.

In attendance at the meeting were the Group’s Chair, Chris Davies, Conservative MP for Brecon and Radnorshire, and three elected vice chairs; Labour peer, Lord Clark of Windermere, Conservative Lord Boswell of Aynho and Ann-Marie Trevelyan, Conservative MP for Berwick-upon-Tweed. Furthermore the APPGF was well attended by a diverse range of stakeholders, including Forestry Commission England, Forest Research, The Green Party and the House of Parliament’s Office of Science and Technology, Thames Water and the Woodland Trust.

Petitions and Inquiries

In addition to discussions, there is a petition before Parliament on making tree planting a priority to reduce flooding. ICF Members can sign this by clicking here.

It has been reported that the UK Parliament’s Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Select Committee will be launching an inquiry around forestry, the details of which are due to be finalised. The Institute will engage with ICF members and make appropriate representations.

The APPGF, launched in June 2015, focuses on the need for increased levels of sustainable forestry, helping to drive UK support for the wider forestry and wood processing sector. An APPG is an informal group of cross-party parliamentarians who join together to pursue a particular topic of interest. APPGs have no formal place in the legislature, but are an effective way of bringing together parliamentarians and interested parties together.


Download Confor’s Forestry and Flooding (PDF)

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