Britain’s towns need more trees
A report, supported by the Royal Bank of Canada through its RBC Blue Water Project, explains how tree planting can improve and protect the quality of water in urban areas by intercepting heavy rainfall, trapping pollutants and reducing the risk of flooding by absorbing excess surface water.
Launched at this month’s Trees in our Towns seminar at London’s City Hall, the report will be used as a tool by Mayor Boris Johnson’s RE:LEAF programme which, in partnership with the Woodland Trust, works to increase tree canopy cover in the capital.
Preliminary research results from the University of Manchester indicate that trees can reduce surface water run off by as much as 80% when compared with asphalt, says the Woodland Trust. ‘Trees and other green spaces intercept rain, reducing the volume and rate of run off. The leaves, branches and trunks of trees slow the speed at which rain reaches the ground, with some rain evaporating into the atmosphere.’
Trees planted as buffers to water courses reduce sedimentation and lower water temperatures, it adds, as well as increasing oxygen levels, to the benefit of fish and other wildlife.
Recent years have seen a decline in the numbers of trees planted in urban areas. When combined with a loss of trees planted during the Victorian era, this should send a warning signal about the future for trees in our towns and cities, the trust argues, ‘especially when we also consider all the other benefits trees in urban areas bring’.
According to Woodland Trust conservation advisor Mike Townsend, trees deliver multiple benefits simultaneously: ‘As well as reducing flood risk and improving water quality, they create beautiful areas where people want to live, work and visit, they provide shelter and shade, fruits and nuts, produce oxygen and reduce carbon, and offer sustainable fuel and homes for wildlife.’
For more information and to download the full report click here.