Reducing Flood Risk – an ecological approach

Date published: 15 March 2018

The Forest Service announces today publication of a research report on the potential for tree planting to reduce the risk of flooding affecting Omagh.

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Welcoming the report, Forest Service Chief Executive Malcolm Beatty said: “There is growing evidence that woodland planting in the right place can ‘slow the flow’ and reduce downstream flooding events. This new report by Forest Research, an agency of the Forestry Commission, is an important addition to the evidence in Northern Ireland.”

The report models and quantifies this effect in the catchments above Omagh under a range of tree planting scenarios and suggests that doubling the area of forest to 14% of the catchment will reduce flood peaks for an extreme storm (a one in 100 year return period flood) by 8%, and a one in 5 year return period flood by 13%.

Mr. Beatty continued: “The study area was picked because, as shown by the photograph on the front page of the report, Omagh has suffered significant flooding events in the past. It will inform work by our colleagues in DfI Rivers on the role that natural flood management techniques could have in alleviating long-term flooding risks.”

Increasing the area of healthy flourishing woodlands is one of the important land use changes that could be considered, combined with better upland heather and heather grassland management, that models suggest are important in reducing the risk of flooding downstream, alongside more traditional engineering measures.

Further work is needed to estimate the economic case and practicality of flood mitigation and land-use change programmes.

Notes to editors: 

  1. The report produced by Forest Research: ‘Quantifying the hydrological effect of woodland creation in Camowen and Drumragh catchments, Omagh, Northern Ireland’ is available on the DAERA website.
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  3. All media queries should be directed to the DAERA Press Office on 028 9052 4619 or email DAERA Press Office. Out of office hours please contact the duty press officer via pager number 07623 974 383 and your call will be returned.



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