THE PETITION STATES:
Britain has been struck by a succession of Atlantic storms accompanied by very heavy rain. In early December Storm Desmond saw 5,000 people flooded out of their homes in Carlisle in spite of £38 million of flood defences recently installed by the Environment Agency. More recently, Storm Frank has caused similar havoc in the Southwest, Lancashire, Yorkshire, the Scottish borders and Northern Ireland.
We demand that a major national tree planting effort is implemented, to build our national resilience to future flood events, and that the shooting of beavers is halted immediately!
The key to reducing the risk of more floods is to realise that conventional ‘flood defence’ can never provide security against the ever more extreme weather events that global warming will bring. The storm waters must be held back into the moors, bogs, fields and headwaters, so that they are given the chance to replenish soils and aquifers, and are released only slowly into the main streams and rivers.
We need more trees: it’s no secret that just having trees in the landscape helps rainwater to infiltrate into soils.
Next, beavers: trees are food for beavers, and beavers use them to build their dams. And that’s absolutely key to restoring landscapes and making them water retentive. We should select water–loving tree species that are palatable to beavers — like poplars, willows, sallows and alders — and establish them along watercourses, ditches, streams, ponds and eroded upland gullies.
Unfortunately, beavers are actually being shot in Scotland. Scotland needs its beavers as much as England does – and for exactly the same reasons.
By: Oliver Tickell
Editor of The Ecologist