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25,000 new trees to help reduce flood risk in West Cumbria

Volunteers help plant trees in the River Cocker catchment.

Over 25,000 trees are being planted this winter by West Cumbria Rivers Trust in partnership with the Woodland Trust to support natural flood management projects.

West Cumbria Rivers Trust is working on four major natural flood management projects that aim to help reduce flood risk to Keswick, Cockermouth, Flimby and Bootle. The projects are part of DEFRA’s £15 million National NFM Programme, with £2.6 million being spent in Cumbria. West Cumbria Rivers Trust is installing a wide range of landscape features to slow run-off and temporarily store water in the landscape for longer during storms.

The Woodland Trust is a partner on all four projects and has secured funding from the Aviva Foundation to support the Keswick and Cockermouth projects. The Woodland Trust is providing both trees and specialist expertise to West Cumbria Rivers Trust, and together the organisations are aiming to plant over 25,000 trees across the region this winter.

Trees help reduce flooding in several ways. Water penetrates soil under and around trees better than it can on compacted lawns and pastures, reducing surface run-off. Trees also help ‘slow the flow’ in two main ways during storms: rain landing on the tree canopy evaporates from the leaves or drips down the trunk, more gradually reaching the ground; and trees on floodplains and along riverbanks act as drag on floodwaters, holding it back and making it drain slower.

Pete Leeson, Partnerships Manager at The Woodland Trust, said: “The Woodland Trust is delighted to be working with West Cumbria Rivers Trust. Trees are a vital part of the natural flood management toolkit and help create a more resilient landscape. They also offer huge environmental benefits, creating habitat for many wildlife species and storing carbon.”

West Cumbria Rivers Trust needs volunteers for several tree-planting days across the region this winter.

Clair Payne, Project Officer at West Cumbria Rivers Trust, said: “Our volunteers make a huge difference to the number of trees we can plant. We’re really grateful to all the members of local communities who come out in all weathers to help! Newcomers are always made very welcome and you don’t have to have planted trees before as we’ll show you how.”

Details of tree-planting days are available at westcumbriariverstrust.org/events

West Cumbria Rivers Trust’s natural flood management projects are variously funded by DEFRA’s National Natural Flood Management Programme, the European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development’s Water Environment Grant, the Woodland Trust and the Walney Extension Community Fund.

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