Natural Dams Aid Flood Prevention

The Duchy of Lancaster has recently completed a project in partnership with the Environment Agency to guard against potential flooding in woodland areas this winter. The initial trial focuses on catchment flooding at Marchington Woods, part of the ancient Royal Needwood Forest, on the Duchy’s Staffordshire Survey.

The project has involved the felling of selected trees and manoeuvring the fallen branches and other natural vegetation into a wooded watercourse. This has created a series of small natural dams which slow the flow of water from the natural escarpment above, holding it in the wood and creating pools upstream. The net result is to delay the peak outflow during heavy rainfall, allowing the major river systems to take away the increased water without over-spilling their banks.

Several other tributaries exist within gulleys along the Marchington escarpment and similar projects could help to alleviate flooding events in the nearby villages of Marchington and Draycott in the Clay this winter.

Commenting on the initiative, Duchy Head of Rural Carol Hawkey said: “Whilst we recognise that flooding cannot be entirely prevented by these measures, active woodland management has a part to play in flood mitigation across the country. We have been very pleased with the results of the project and are hopeful that further projects can be explored across our rural estates in due course.”

Forestry agents Forwoods Forestry & Woodland Consultancy Ltd oversaw the project on behalf of the Duchy working with local contractors Treemendous Estate Care Ltd.

The remains of the ancient Royal Forest of Needwood cover some 500 acres within the Duchy’s Staffordshire Survey, which today includes a mix of arable, dairy and livestock farms as well as a diverse mix of residential and commercial lettings. Areas of the estate form part of the National Forest designation and we continue with an ongoing programme of new woodland planting in conjunction with the National Forest.