Is it just me, or is this stating the obvious?
Trees Hold Answer to Flood Menace
Scientists have discovered that simple strips of newly planted woodland could play a crucial role in halting the floods that have devastated British towns in recent years.
They found that land with trees can hold vast amounts of water that would otherwise stream down hills and surge along rivers into towns.
‘The extent of water absorption was entirely unexpected,’ said Dr Zoe Carroll of the Centre for Ecology and Hydrology in Bangor. ‘It also has great potential for helping us deal with floods.’
‘We measured rain that was being absorbed by grazing land and by woodland, and found the latter was 60 times more effective at taking up water than soil on land grazed by animals,’ said Carroll. ‘We expected to find a difference, but not one of this magnitude.’
The team do not fully understand the reasons for this, though grazed land tends to be compacted by hooves and this could reduce its capacity to let in rain. Trees also generate roots that break up soil, creating pathways for water to move through.
Regardless of the cause, it is clear the discovery could have great practical implications. In 2002 flooding triggered by rainwater pouring from hillsides caused millions of pounds of damage to Shrewsbury, while Kidlington in Oxfordshire, Peterborough in Cambridgeshire and Leamington Spa in Warwickshire were all badly flooded in 1998. Scientists say that flooding is destined to get worse as global warming increases climate instability.