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51,000 trees to be planted in West Cumbria

West Cumbria Rivers Trust will create more than 10 hectares of woodland and 5.6 km of hedgerow this winter by planting over 51,000 trees and hedge plants as part of its range of natural flood management and river habitat improvement projects across the West Cumbria region.

Trees provide several environmental benefits, helping to reduce flooding, providing habitat for many species, shading rivers to keep waters cool for freshwater species, and helping in the fight against climate change.

Vikki Salas, assistant director at West Cumbria Rivers Trust, said: “Tree-planting is a major part of what we do – trees, and their roots, provide the right habitats for aquatic species to thrive, and they’re also a vital tool in our natural flood management work with multiple benefits for both people and wildlife. We’re really excited to be planting more trees this year than ever before.”

The trust is working on natural flood management projects to benefit Keswick, Lorton, Cockermouth, Bootle and Flimby.

“Trees help reduce flooding in several ways by slowing the rate at which rainfall reaches rivers. Surface run-off is reduced as water can penetrate soil under and around trees better than on compacted grasslands.

Some of the rain that lands on a tree canopy will evaporate, and further water is released by trees during their biological processes.

This water enters the atmosphere rather than reaching the ground, even during storms when the air is already very moist. Trees on floodplains and along riverbanks are a drag on floodwaters, holding them back and making the land drain slower.

Tree-planting will also take place as part of the trust’s work to improve habitat for the endangered freshwater mussel.

Planting on riverbanks provides shade which keeps water cool during hot weather, particularly benefiting salmon and trout which are sensitive to high temperatures.

Tree roots also help to reduce excess silt and nutrients entering the river by binding the riverbanks and they provide habitat and food for other species and help to improve soil condition.

The trust’s projects where trees will be planted are funded are supported by the Woodland Trust, the Environment Agency, Defra, the European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development’s Water Environment Grant, United Utilities, Natural England, the National Trust, Cumbria Wildlife Trust, Friends of the Lake District, Derwent Owners Association, Cumbria Woodlands, the Walney Extension Community Fund, the Freshwater Biological Association and local community groups.