TTL propose to reduce the risk of local flooding by an extensive programme of tree planting and land management in the Ouse catchment. This may take quite some time, what with the size of the catchment (several hundred square kilometres), the number of agencies involved, and the difficulties of negotiating with a multitude of landowners. However, some excellent work has already been done by the Sussex Flow Initiative, which is an alliance between Sussex Wildlife Trust, the Environment Agency, and the Woodland Trust. We will do what we can to support their work; initially, by organising a public meeting at which we can tell people what is going on, and give them the chance to get involved.
We don’t intend to do much tree planting over the next few months, for various reasons. It is best done with bare-rooted specimens, and these are usually planted in the autumn, when there is less need for watering. A great deal of research also needs to be done into what goes where: the idea is to reduce the rate of flow from high ground to river, but it is quite possible to slow storm water in a tributary to the extent that it hits the main river when the latter is in full spate. This is not recommended.
However, there are many other reasons for planting trees. They reduce atmospheric pollution, they sequester carbon, they enhance biodiversity, and, of course, they are quite beautiful. The image (left) shows the Meadow Minders, a team of conservation volunteers on the Lewes Railway Land, planting a belt of scrub beside the Heart of Reeds. This replaces a tangle of overgrown buddleia, and is intended to dissuade people from walking their dogs on a section of bank that is used by basking slow worms and grass snakes: it is made up of blackthorn and whitethorn, spindle, dog rose, guelder rose and wayfaring tree. Just out of shot to the left is the viewing mound, on the south face of which another team are planting wild flowers.