Calls for a review into tree felling practices in Wales to confront flooding brought about by the Climate Emergency

The Welsh Conservatives’ Shadow Minister Climate Change, Energy and Rural Affairs – Janet Finch-Saunders MS – has today (09 September) urged the Welsh Government to open a review into the practice of felling where flooding is a known problem.  

The practice of tree felling continues to occur within in the Conwy Valley, leading to local concern about the disappearance of a perceived natural flood defence. In a recent reply to the Member's Written Question on these concerns, Lesley Griffiths MS said: 

"Despite being good at intercepting water, advice from Natural Resources Wales details there is not enough woodland in the Conwy Valley catchment to have a significant effect on flooding from the Afon Conwy. [...] There is strong evidence to show well-managed woodlands of all types, such as those on the Welsh Government Woodland Estate, are a part of the solution and not part of the problem."

Earlier this year, the practice of tree felling gained widespread attention after causing issues in the Rhondda village of Pentre, which flooded twice in the space of five days following a culvert collapse during Storm Dennis.  

Commenting on her calls for a review, Janet said:  

“I am calling for an urgent review of tree felling practices in Wales, particularly in locations where flooding is a persistent and known threat to residents and their livelihoods. 

“As my conversations with the Woodland Trust have made clear, when combined with manmade flood defences, trees provide a sustainable and low maintenance solution to lessening the risk of flooding as they help with water infiltration and slow water runoff onto farmland. 

"Given that the Welsh Minister for Environment has accepted that the conifers of Conwy Valley are very good at intercepting rainfall and at slowing the downward flow of water, how can Lesley Griffiths MS allow the felling of such trees to continue? The Welsh Government must publish the scientific advice that is allowing this to occur.

“The felling of these slow growing British trees will also have a wholly negative impact on our nation’s ability to trap and store carbon. Trees stand proudly as the guardians of the natural environment and are the primary tool in our arsenal to offset the emissions released by modern society.   

“As scientific projections suggest that Wales can expect a greater frequency of extreme weather events, with the present climate emergency bringing about more frequent flooding, the Welsh Government must review the impact of tree felling on our ability to protect homes and businesses.”