Council funds tree planting as part of £0.5m flood prevention scheme

Hundreds of trees have been planted in the catchment of the river Aire upstream of Leeds as part of a trial of natural flood management techniques.

Image: Alexander Kapp (CC BY-SA 2.0)
Image: Alexander Kapp (CC BY-SA 2.0)

The pilot site, on a working farm at Eshton Beck near the village of Gargrave, now has 650 new trees and shrubs planted by staff and trainees from Yorkshire Wildlife Trust and volunteers.

Yorkshire Wildlife Trust has also worked on three further pilots on the same site, building log and brash "leaky dams", as well as planting a further 850 trees, undertaking 0.5ha of woodland management, building a log revetment and installing 200m of fencing and a water gate to protect the new trees from grazing.

The £500,000 natural flood management pilot forms part of the Leeds Flood Alleviation Scheme, led by Leeds City Council in partnership with the Environment Agency, which takes a catchment-wide approach to flood risk, and also includes flood plain restoration.

Monitoring and researching these pilot sites will provide evidence and increase understanding of the benefits they provide for reducing flood risk, and serve as a template for working with landowners, tenants, local authorities and other partners.

The interventions are also intended to create habitat for wildlife and help regenerate rural and urban areas through tourism.

Yorkshire Wildlife Trust conservation officer Don Vine said: "We have had support from the landowner and real interest from neighbouring farmers, and so much assistance from volunteer groups, university students, local NVQ trainees and a Gargrave-based company.

"We have already seen some small changes along the watercourse due to our recent work and we will be monitoring all these interventions over the next few years to measure impact not only river flow, but also water quality and wildlife."

The next phase of the scheme foresees more than doubling tree canopy coverage in the River Aire catchment.

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