How a shift to continuous cover forestry (CFF) may reduce flood risk

Continuous cover forestry in practice
A site undergoing transformation to continuous cover forestry

The small-scale nature of silvicultural practices under continuous cover forestry will favour those factors that help to reduce flood flows. In particular, the maintenance of a permanent forest canopy with greater edge will act to maximise forest water use. This, together with the expected reduction in soil disturbance from cultivation, drainage and harvesting operations, could act to ameliorate downstream flooding. However, much will depend on the scale and location of forest cover within a given catchment.

A recent report Environmental best practice for continuous cover forestry (PDF-4578K) commissioned by the Environment Agency and Forestry Commission concluded that none of the existing forest hydrology experimental catchments are suitable for conversion to CCF. Thus there may be a need for a new study to assess the impact of CCF on flood flows.