Using excess funds to plant trees is the 'no-brainer' solution to farm water pollution

A coalition of 26 national environmental organisations is calling for a new plan that would "dramatically reduce farm water pollution" by allowing farmers to plant native woodlands along rivers and streams.

The proposal follows the Government's latest review of the Nitrates Action Plan which recommends that farmers need to fence off their cattle from water sources from January 2021.

The Environmental Pillar argues that this should happen sooner and funding should also be made available for the planting of trees along waterways to act as a natural buffer.

"Our native trees have a fantastic ability to absorb this pollution and convert it to carbon, and do not require fertilisers or pesticides unlike current commercial non-native tree plantations," according to The Environmental Pillar.

Earlier this week, the EPA's Drinking Water Report 2016 found that pesticide contamination is one of the leading causes of poor water quality in our water supplies.

According to Environmental Pillar, this approach would have the immediate benefit of improving water quality, creating new habitat, and storing carbon as well as ensuring we comply with various EU directives.

It also said deep tree roots can also prevent soil erosion on river banks and soak up heavy rain water to mitigate flooding.

"Planting figures are historically low, averaging just 6,000 hectares per year, despite Coford's expert finding that we need to plant a minimum of 10,000 hectares per year," according to Environmental Pillar forestry spokesperson Andrew St. Ledger.

It is calling for excess funds from under-spent non-native forestry funding to be diverted to a native woodland farm pollution planting plan.

"It is a no-brainer to use our existing and under spent commercial forestry funding to support farmers in creating linear native woodlands to act as a natural buffering protection for our rivers and streams," he added.

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