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Meeting Salford's remarkable anti-storm trees

07 February 2017

  • Howard Street trees
  • Howard Street site visit
Howard Street in Salford is an ordinary street of new build houses with some unusual trees – a 'living laboratory' of London Plane trees that are reducing storm water flows by up to 70%.

Last week the Mersey Forest Team accompanied officers from the Merseyside and Cheshire Mid-Mersey Flood Coast Erosion Risk Management (FCERM) and Mersey Forest Partnership to visit Howard Street and view the experimental trees. We're working on similar projects within our area and are keen to learn from the Salford experiment.


Pete Stringer from our friends at Manchester's City of Trees and Dr. James Rothwell, University of Manchester, explained how the trees are planted in a specially designed trench that aims to reduce levels of surface water and clean up pollution. The project aims to capture the impact that trees have on both cleaning polluted water from road run-off and managing levels of surface water, which can lead to flooding.


Using specialist equipment, Dr James Rothwell from The University of Manchester has been monitoring the quantity and quality of the road run-off as it enters and leaves the tree trench. The provisional results so far have shown:


  • 70% average storm peak reduction
  • 60% average water volume retention by the tree pit system
  • Up to 2 hours delay in storm waters leaving the system
  • Reduction in phosphates and some heavy metals

The project has been installed thanks to successful partnership collaboration between Manchester City of Trees, the Environment Agency, The University of Manchester, Deep Root, United Utilities, Urban Vision and Salford City Council. There's much more about the Howard Street trees on the City of Trees website.


As part of the Life+ Natural Course project we're working closely with colleagues at the City of Trees and the Rivers Trust to deliver three Urban Catchment Forestry demonstration sites that aim to show how trees and green infrastructure can be used to reduce urban flooding. A demonstration project is currently being developed with partners in St.Helens.


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