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Review needed into whether tree felling in Wales linked to flooding, MS says

09 Sep 2020 3 minute read
The Conwy Valley. picture by Gerald England (CC BY-SA 2.0).

A Conservative MS has called on the Welsh Government to conduct a review into whether the felling of trees is causing flooding.

Aberconwy MS Janet Finch-Saunders said there was concern in the Conwy Valley that felling trees was removing a natural flood defence.

Earlier this year, the practice of tree felling gained widespread attention after causing issues in the Rhondda village of Pentre, which flooded twice in the space of five days following a culvert collapse during Storm Dennis.

“I am calling for an urgent review of tree felling practices in Wales, particularly in locations where flooding is a persistent and known threat to residents and their livelihoods,” Janet Finch-Saunders said.

“As my conversations with the Woodland Trust have made clear, when combined with manmade flood defences, trees provide a sustainable and low maintenance solution to lessening the risk of flooding as they help with water infiltration and slow water runoff onto farmland.”


‘Negative impact’

In a recent reply to the Member’s Written Question on these concerns, Lesley Griffiths MS said that despite being good at intercepting water, advice from Natural Resources Wales was that there was not enough woodland in the Conwy Valley catchment to have a significant effect on flooding.

“There is strong evidence to show well-managed woodlands of all types, such as those on the Welsh Government Woodland Estate, are a part of the solution and not part of the problem,” she said.

But Janet Finch-Saunders said such evidence showed that the felling of trees should stop.

“Given that the Welsh Minister for Environment has accepted that the conifers of Conwy Valley are very good at intercepting rainfall and at slowing the downward flow of water, how can Lesley Griffiths MS allow the felling of such trees to continue?” she said.

“The Welsh Government must publish the scientific advice that is allowing this to occur.

“The felling of these slow-growing British trees will also have a wholly negative impact on our nation’s ability to trap and store carbon. Trees stand proudly as the guardians of the natural environment and are the primary tool in our arsenal to offset the emissions released by modern society.

“As scientific projections suggest that Wales can expect a greater frequency of extreme weather events, with the present climate emergency bringing about more frequent flooding, the Welsh Government must review the impact of tree felling on our ability to protect homes and businesses.”

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