There are many catchments within Devon and Cornwall where water quality and flood risk is impacted by land management (River Basin Management Plan). Research and development demonstrates that woodland planting is cost beneficial and can form an important pollution and flood reduction measure if targeted appropriately.
A recent report jointly funded by Forestry Commission England and the Environment Agency reviewed the latest evidence concerning the positive and negative impacts of woodland on surface and groundwaters. The Environment Agency’s Summary Report of this work concludes that:
• There is strong evidence to support woodland creation in appropriate locations to achieve water management and water quality objectives
• Woodland contribution to tackling diffuse pollution includes both a barrier and interception function, helping to trap and retain nutrients and sediment in polluted runoff.
• A good case can be made for the mitigation of downstream flooding by riparian and floodplain woodland.
Our Woods4Water project supports landowners with advice and encouragement to plant in these areas. It offers small capital grants to install features such as culverts, stream protection, sediment traps etc in woodland so that timber extraction and other works do not cause problems. Works that increase ground flora and roughness may also be supported.