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Plant trees to help protect London from climate change flood risk

By deliar
4th January 2024

Winter storms have caused chaos in London – but trees can provide a natural solution

Recent storms have ravaged London, with heavy rain and high winds disrupting trains and creating misery on the roads. With this winter’s events just the latest in flash flooding affecting us, it seems we are already experiencing the impact of global warming.

Yet we can fight back, by creating new woodland and preserving green spaces across the capital. Tree planting plays a crucial role in mitigating flooding, offering a natural solution to this pressing environmental issue. As climate change intensifies, extreme weather events, including heavy rainfall and floods become more frequent. But trees function as nature’s defence mechanism.

Firstly, trees help prevent flooding by absorbing water through their roots and storing it in the soil. This process both reduces surface runoff, and the volume of water reaching rivers or drainage systems during heavy rain. The intricate root systems of trees also enhance soil permeability, allowing water to penetrate deeper into the ground.

Trees go further. They help stabilise soil, preventing erosion and landslides that can worsen flooding. Their roots bind soil together, reducing the risk of it being washed away by rapid water flow.

Wooded areas also form natural sponges, regulating water flow and reducing the intensity of floods. On riverbanks, trees slow down the movement of water, allowing it to be absorbed and filtered, which helps keep a healthy ecosystem.

In urban areas, strategically planting trees along streets, in parks, and in green spaces, mitigates the impact of heavy rainfall and minimises flooding. These trees work as green infrastructure, reducing surface runoff and enhancing the flood resilience.

Trees are increasingly recognised as a powerful tool in the fight against flooding. Prioritising tree planting initiatives can make a substantial difference in reducing the impact of flooding, and building more resilient communities in the face of climate change.

We can all help protect London through tree planting. CPRE is working to create an M25 of trees, encircling the capital with a seamless corridor of woodland. Right now, we are looking for suitable sites all round London. See more here London needs an “M25 of trees” – CPRE London

Or donate here,

Flooded road, A2, Greenwich, Lewisham, SUDS
Flooded road, A2, Greenwich, Lewisham, SUDS R Dobson