Background Info

My understanding is that under the Flood Risk Management (Scotland) Act 2009, Scotland currently has a range of flood risk management strategies and flood protection schemes. But to date there does not appear to have been much consideration given to the use of potentially significant sustainable and lower cost natural flood alleviation techniques such as targeted tree planting, insertion of large woody material in waterways and, where possible, the translocation of the Eurasian beaver (Castor fiber).

In recent years a series of trials in parts of England and Wales has shown that the use of naturalistic methods such as targeted tree planting and insertion of large woody material in water courses to reduce flooding shows great promise at a much lower cost than traditional heavy engineering flood prevention techniques, whilst also being good for wildlife. This is most marked in the case of the beaver which is involved in no less than four projects, existing or planned, to help alleviate flooding in England.

The case for comprehensive application of these initiatives is overwhelming, and any unnecessary delay in implementing that could lead to unnecessarily higher flood damage and associated distress to communities and businesses in the future. In the case of the beaver its reintroduction into the uplands would mean its damming would reduce both peaks and troughs in water flow, alleviating flooding and drought effects plus widened waterways would act as natural firebreaks as has been seen in North America. There are significant benefits for homes, businesses and better-quality farmland in the lowlands. In addition, it will prove a boon to biodiversity and conservation, remove pollutants and reduce sedimentation.

There are also significant opportunities here in terms of public education and engagement - from helping to map watersheds to identify locations for these projects to practical work establishing them. If it is known that this will not only help wildlife and people, but that will be amplified by increased chances that a lost member of our fauna - the beaver - can return, then it is likely to be extremely popular. The excellent Treesponsibility project, whose aims include involving local communities in tree planting and to improve local environment and biodiversity for the benefit of local people and future generations, could serve as an excellent example for this.

Any loss of agricultural productivity should be minor, in fact it may increase with lower level farmland subjected to less flooding. As we waste 1.35 million tonnes of food and drink in Scotland each year reducing this would be a far more effective means of improving our food security rather than subsidising agriculture on poor quality land where flood prevention would be a far more sensible option. In fact, cutting food waste to help return land for wildlife conservation could be incorporated within government anti food waste campaigns. All of the above would be a considerably better alternative in terms of involving the public than their mopping out of flooded homes and businesses.

This website is using cookies.
We use cookies to ensure that we give you the best experience on our website. If you continue without changing your settings, we’ll assume that you are happy to receive all cookies on this website.