Trees are nature’s sponges

Trees and shrubs are thirsty organisms and they have much more of an impact on our surroundings than we might realise.

Once mature, a deciduous tree can transpire large volumes of water. Trees can maintain an open structure in the soil, making it more permeable and less susceptible to water run-off. Trees on flood plains help to provide a buffer for storm water and reduce flooding downstream. In fact, the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Forestry met in February to look at how the strategic planting of trees could be used as a defence against flooding. There is also a petition currently before parliament to prioritise the planting of trees as a preventative measure against flooding. The government will respond by June of this year.

The absorption factor can also be a hazard, however. By abstracting moisture from shrinkable soils, trees can contribute to the subsidence of low-rise buildings. And if a tree is removed for whatever reason, shrinkable soils such as clay might rehydrate and, over the course of a few years, make the ground swell and cause ‘heave’, potentially resulting in damage to buildings. For this reason it’s best to identify the characteristics of the local soils before planting trees and large shrubs close to buildings and select the plants accordingly or design the building’s foundations to withstand future soil shrinkage. If you have trees that are causing you concern, get them checked out by a qualified tree specialist.

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Trees are nature’s sponges

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Trees and shrubs are thirsty organisms and they have much more of an impact on our surroundings than we might realise. Once mature, a deciduous tree can transpire large volumes of water. Trees can maintain an open structure in the soil, making it more permeable and less susceptible to water run-off. Trees on flood plains […]

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Cheshire Woodlands use of Quantified Tree Risk Assessment has proved invaluable. It has helped us to retain trees that were condemned by another advisor. They have used measurable data to provide us with a valid tree risk assessment.

Caroline Wild, Taylor Wimpey

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