The Somerset Trees for Water Project (ST4W) secured £95,000 in December 2020 for tree planting schemes in Somerset to help improve flood management and water quality in the county.
The funding comes from a £1.4 million Environment Agency fund called ‘Woodlands for Water’ that will see more than 850,000 trees planted across England.
The ST4W project is a partnership between the Farming and Wildlife Advisory Group South West (FWAG SW), Reimagining the Levels (RtL) and the Woodland Trust, supported by the Somerset Catchment Partnership (SCP).
In recent years, we’ve seen extensive flooding from extreme weather events in Somerset and Somerset County Council, as the Lead Local Flood Authority, and the Somerset Rivers Authority are keen to support local flood management schemes.
Slowing the flow of water by allowing it to filter down through the soil rather than overwhelming streams and rivers is the focus of the scheme, working with nature to alleviate flood risk and using trees to protect against the problems caused by heavy rainfall.
The trees are supplied free to landowners who are paid to plant them in sites across the South Somerset, Taunton and Mendip areas of the county.
In record time, the ST4W project has worked with 19 landowners to plant more than 15,000 trees and 29,000 hedge plants, creating 6 hectares of new woodland and more than 5km of new hedgerows.
Apart from helping to reduce flooding in the county, the planting will also help to reduce “run off” and soil erosion from agricultural land, thereby improving the water quality of nearby waterways.