Is planting trees the solution to reducing flood risks?

    loading  Checking for direct PDF access through Ovid


Flood risk and associated impacts are major societal and policy concerns following widespread flooding in December 2015, which cost the UK economy an estimated £5 billion. Increasing advocacy for alternatives to conventional hard engineering solutions is accompanied by demands for evidence. This study provides a systematic review and meta-analysis of direct evidence for the effect of tree cover on channel discharge. The results highlighted a deficiency in direct evidence. From 7 eligible studies of 156 papers reviewed, the results show that increasing tree cover has a small statistically significant effect on reducing channel discharge. Meta-analysis reveals that tree cover reduces channel discharge (standardised mean difference −0.35, 95%CI, −0.71 to 0.00), but the effect was variable (I2 = 81.91%), the potential for confounding was high, and publication bias is strongly suspected (Egger Test z = 3.0568, p = .002). Due to the lack of direct evidence the overall strength of evidence is low, indicating high uncertainty. Further primary research is required to understand reasons for heterogeneity and reduce uncertainty. A Bayesian network parameterised with data from the meta-analysis supports investment in integrated catchment management, particularly on infrastructure density and water storage (reservoirs), for effective responses to flood risk.

Related Topics

    loading  Loading Related Articles