Working with ADAS UK Ltd we have just completed a major review of the water services provided by woodland
News from Forest Research: October 2011
The Environment Agency and Forestry Commission England funded the work in order to gauge the potential for utilising woodland to tackle a number of growing pressures on the water environment, including diffuse pollution and flooding.
The review, which has now been published, evaluated both the interactions between woodland and water, and the policy options to control risks and promote benefits. While the focus was on native woodland creation, consideration was also given to the impact of new conifer woodlands and bioenergy plantations.
There is strong evidence to support woodland creation to benefit the water environment. The case is greatest for woodland acting as a sink and trap for diffuse pollutants, such as sediments, nitrogen, phosphate and pesticides. There is also increasing evidence that riparian and floodplain woodland could make a significant contribution to flood alleviation. This factor, together with the ability of woodland to control summer water temperature extremes, is expected to become increasingly important for mitigating the impacts of climate change.
The review cites examples from around the world of effective payment schemes for water-related forest services that have succeeded in achieving woodland creation for water protection. A case study is also presented showing how ‘opportunity mapping’ can help target the best sites for planting. It is hoped that the work will lead to incentives and regulatory controls being used more effectively to secure woodland opportunities for water.