How Trees Prevent Flooding

Trees are one of the most important organisms to ever exist on planet Earth. Food for all living organisms originates from trees and other members in the plant kingdom. Every single organism depends directly or indirectly on trees for their survival. Trees not only provide food for other organisms, but also shelter and protection to many different types of organisms including humans. In addition, trees also provide wood, shade, oxygen and clean air. During heavy rains, trees reduce the risk of flooding. There are two major ways in which trees provide protection against flooding.

Trees allow water to be drained into the ground

When plants grow in an area, the roots of plants dig deep in to the soil and create space between soil particles. When it rains in highlands, water that flows downhill gets drained into the space created by the root system of plants. Due to this, chance of flooding is greatly reduced. When plants are absent, especially in rocky areas, rocks prevent water from seeping into the ground. This phenomenon is also observed in paved roads. Since there is no room for water to seep, flooding occurs in nearby water bodies. When a layer of water runs off a rocky surface, it reduces friction and the following layers of water will run more freely as there is less friction. If more water is dumped into rivers and lakes than they can handle, these water bodies tend to overflow and the banks burst and cause flooding. If there are more trees in an area that is prone to water runoffs, the root system of trees can create space between these rocks and hence reduce the amount of water being dumped into lakes and rivers.

Vegetation slows down the flow of water

Trees and other forms of vegetation act as barriers to water flow. The more trees there are, the slower the water flow. This slowing down of water gives it time to be absorbed into the soil rather than being washed away and being dumped into water bodies like rivers and lakes. Larger trees present in the path of the water flow can significantly reduce this flow as the surface area of the tree trunks will be much higher. The presence of trees in this region (highland) greatly reduces the soil erosion effect of water. If such a barrier is missing near water bodies, it is advisable to create a buffer strip of not less than 50 ft. to avoid soil erosion and water runoff.