How will trees planted along the River Aire help protect Leeds from flooding? - And everything else you need to know

The leader of Leeds Council, Councillor Judith Blake plants the first tree in Gargrave as part of a pilot scheme to protect Leeds from flooding through natural management.
The leader of Leeds Council, Councillor Judith Blake plants the first tree in Gargrave as part of a pilot scheme to protect Leeds from flooding through natural management.
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Leeds City Council began work on a pilot programme that will see thousands of trees lining the River Aire as part of the Leeds Flood Alleviation Scheme earlier this week.

Memories of the 2015 Boxing Day floods will never be forgotten and to help combat the risk of such devastation hitting the city again, hundreds of thousands of trees are set to be planted along the river.

The first of 450 trees that make up part of a pilot scheme were planted earlier this week, with plans for hundreds of thousands to be planted overall.

Here, we look at exactly what trees will be planted, where they will be located and what the hope if in terms of their effect as part of the Leeds Flood Alleviation Scheme.​

Why are they being planted?

The trees are being planted to help protect Leeds from suffering major flooding in the future. The pilot sites will allow the team to be able to do monitoring and research of the techniques used to gather evidence and increase their understanding and the benefits they give to reducing flood risk.

The pilot programme will also be used by the Environment Agency and Leeds City Council to develop a co-design approach to working with landowners, tenants, local authorities and other key partners such as the Aire Rivers Trust and the White Rose Forest. This will help to then develop future plans for the catchment.

What effect will the trees have?

According to research, planting trees around rivers could reduce flooding in towns by up to 20 per cent.

Some experts suggest that woodland can act as a barrier to floodwater, while trees can also help to prevent soil erosion, reducing sediment going into rivers and increasing water absorption into the ground.

This slows rainwater running off into swollen streams and helps lower peak flood levels.

A study for the Environment Agency concludes that trees round a feeder stream can slow the rush of rainwater and save properties from flooding.

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Where are they being planted?

Ray Bridge Farm, Eshton Beck, Gargrave is the location of the first pilot site.

Yorkshire Wildlife Trust staff and volunteers will be leading the planting of trees at the site.

What trees are being planted?

Trees such as Dogwood, Guelder Rose, Downy Birch, Alder, and willow will be planted along with hedgerows of hawthorn, blackthorn and hazel.

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How many trees will be planted?

According to Leeds City Council, the plan is for hundreds of thousands of trees to be planted along the River Aire catchment overall, with 450 planted as part of the initial pilot scheme.

How much will it cost?

This is a £500,000 pilot programme, which has been funded by Leeds City Council, and forms part of plans to plant hundreds of thousands of trees that will support second phase of the Leeds Flood Alleviation Scheme.