Planting trees could reduce risk of Omagh flooding

Planting trees could reduce the risk of flooding in part of Co Tyrone by 13%, research showed.

Omagh has suffered significantly from high water in recent times.

The Forest Service measured the effect of doubling the area of forest in a water catchment area above the market town.

Chief executive Malcolm Beatty said: "There is growing evidence that woodland planting in the right place can 'slow the flow' and reduce downstream flooding events.

"This new report by Forest Research, an agency of the Forestry Commission, is an important addition to the evidence in Northern Ireland."

The report suggested that doubling the area of forest to 14% of the catchment will reduce flood peaks for an extreme storm (a one in 100 years flood) by 8%, and a one-in-five year flood by 13%.

Mr Beatty said Omagh was picked for the study because it had suffered significantly in the past.

It will inform work on the role natural flood management techniques could have in alleviating long-term flooding risks, he added.

Increasing the area of healthy flourishing woodlands is among land use changes to be considered as well as better heather management and more traditional engineering measures.

Further work is needed to estimate the economic case and practicality of flood mitigation and land-use change programmes.