London, November 25 (ANI): A scientific study for the Forestry Commission, UK, has suggested that the creation of new forests and woodlands across Britain will help reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 10 per cent and protect communities at risk of flooding.
According to a report in the Times, planting trees in 23,000 hectares a year for the next 40 years would result in just an extra 4 per cent of land for trees, bringing a total of 16 per cent forest in Britain.
In flood plains and upland areas such as Cumbria, where extreme rainfall and flooding is already a reality, there is a need for new forestry to capture rainfall and lessen the flood risk.
Trees in city and town centres would help to mitigate expected higher temperatures, while new woods along rivers will provide shade and help to protect aquatic eco-systems.
Professor Sir David Read, chairman of the study, told The Times that one of the crucial findings of the report was the importance of woods in river catchment areas.
"Trees intercept rainfall and retain water, and one of the problems we are seeing now in the Lake District is (that) there is nothing to stop the water running off the hills," he said.
"We must look again at the contribution of forestry in the uplands and returning them in the direction they once were before we deforested them," he added.
In order to achieve this sylvan future, however, the professor said that Britain must accept the introduction of non-native species to replace native trees.
His scenario envisages many new woodlands for the South of England that would not only capture carbon emissions but that would also be used as an energy crop to reduce the use of fossil fuels.
These woods would comprise willow and poplar, and more mixed deciduous forests of sycamore, ash and birch.
The Scottish landscape would continue to be dominated by conifers, Read suggested, while in Wales there would be a mixture of new broadleaf and conifer plantations.
According to Professor Read, "By increasing our tree cover we can lock up carbon directly. By using more wood for fuel and construction materials we can make savings by using less gas, oil and coal, and by substituting sustainably produced timber for less climate-friendly materials."
"While so many emission-reduction measures have negative connotations, tree planting can be a win, win, win solution: people love trees, we benefit from them in so many different ways, and now we know they could play a significant part in reducing the UK's CO2 emissions," he said. (ANI)