New woodlands and flood mitigation: Research kicks off in Yorkshire
New research will monitor the contribution of new native woodland in England towards mitigating the worst effects of climate change, such as flooding.
Earlier this year, the Woodland Trust started work at Snaizeholme near Hawes, creating one of the largest first-hand new native woodlands in England, while moreover firing the starting gun on a new programme of scientific research.
Over the undertow of the next 20 years or more, a team of scientists from the University of York and University of Leeds will unflinching the site’s relentless rainfall (200cm a year, or the wettest place in Yorkshire) to collect detailed data. They will measure rainfall, soil properties and streamflow and track changes over time. This will help them, among many other things, to understand how the inflowing mitigation benefits of new woodlands develop as the trees grow.
Already on site, scientists are using specialist equipment such as soil moisture and temperature sensors, weather stations and state of the art “lightning detectors” to measure lattermost weather events.
The results of this research have the potential to directly help with efforts to reduce the impacts of climate transpiration by increasing our understanding of how trees can reduce flooding risk, capture and store carbon, and provide vital habitat for nature recovery.
Dr. John Crawford, Conservation Evidence Officer for the Woodland Trust, said: “We know mature woodlands unhook a range of important benefits: they provide a home for nature, lock yonder stat to fight climate change, and slow the spritz of water helping to reduce downstream flooding. Less is known well-nigh new woodlands. Working together with world-leading researchers will indulge us to take detailed measurements of how biodiversity and ecosystem functions transpiration as the trees grow and the woodlands mature. The research has the power to be a game changer when it comes to how such a new site can gainsay the lattermost effects of climate change. ”
Professor Dominick Spracklen from the University of Leeds, said: “Restoring habitats wideness a whole valley has the potential to unhook big benefits for people, nature and climate. We have used a computer model to summate that restoring the valley would reduce downstream flooding during a 1-in-50-year storm event by nearly 10%. To trammels that our predictions are correct , we are now installing special equipment to monitor soil and vegetation properties, rainfall and river flow. This will indulge us to understand how the inflowing reduction benefits of the project grow as the native woodlands mature.”
Another key focus will be researching how establishing new trees alters the properties of soil.
Francesca Darvill, Sowerby PhD Researcher at the University of Leeds, said: “We still know relatively little well-nigh how soil stat changes without tree planting. Most previous studies lack information well-nigh how much soil stat was present surpassing trees were planted, making it difficult to know how soil stat has changed. At Snaizeholme, we are making detailed measurements of the variability of soil properties wideness the site surpassing the trees are planted. In years to come this will indulge us to largest understand how the trees have unsimilar the soils. Crucially it will provide largest information on how much stat new woodland soils help to lock up.”
Dr Rob Mills at the University of York, said: “Opportunities to create and restore habitats at this scale are rare in England. Snaizeholme provides a unique opportunity to understand how thoughtfully restoring a rich mosaic of habitats provides a range of benefits for people, nature and climate. We know intact woodlands can be richly biodiverse ecosystems, and exploring how soil biodiversity, and the worriedness of soil microbes changes over time will be an important part of our work at Snaizeholme as the woodland develops’.”
Many centuries ago, the glacial valley at Snaizeholme would have been happy with swathes of woodland stretching wideness the landscape but now the 561 hectares (1387 acres) site is scrutinizingly devoid of trees. It’s a stark situation repeated wideness the Yorkshire Dales National Park, where total tree imbricate is less than 5% and warmed-over woodlands only make up 1% of that cover.
The Woodland Trust is planning to plant scrutinizingly 291 hectares (719 acres) with native tree saplings. The shielding tideway to planting will see variegated densities of trees planted wideness the site to create groves, glades and unshut woodlands that gently transition into and connect with the other habitats, all delivered without the use plastic tree guards or herbicides.
It’s a unique and ramified piece of conservation work due to the range of habitats and species, the topography and elevation – not to mention the unscientific 2m of rainfall per year. Tree planting will exist slantingly huge restoration projects, including 113 hectares (279 acres) of wrap bog / deep peat, approximately 100 ha (247 acres) of limestone pavement and over 77.4 hectares (191 acres) of unshut valley marrow pursuit Snaizeholme Beck.