This project seeks to understand how the expansion of floodplain treescapes can reduce the impact of river flooding using a typical catchment in the south of the UK.
The Environment Agency estimates that around 5.2 million properties in the UK are at risk from river flooding. They also estimate that this amount will double in the next 50 years due to climate change and historic changes in land use, such as deforestation, agricultural practices, artificial drainage, and urbanization.
Floodplain forests have been proven to reduce the risks of flooding by offering blockage of the flow of water. In addition, these areas offer important benefits to biodiversity, water quality, health and our culture.
During this Fellowship, Leon Baruah, in partnership with Alexander Antonarakis at the University of Sussex, will create a conceptual model that will demonstrate flood impacts with different types of floodplain treescapes, including natural vs manmade, age, species mix and treescape locations. This will help to identify pathways towards reforesting degraded floodplains.
This effort will focus on the rivers Uck and Ouse in Sussex, where the Sussex Wildlife Trust is working to restore floodplain functioning with woodland creation including native floodplain species such as black poplar.
Dr Leon Baruah is an environmental entrepreneur, digital humanitarian, astrophysicist and the co-founder of Viridian Logic. He completed a Masters degree with Prof Seb Oliver and then a PhD on the Dark Energy Survey with Prof Kathy Romer in the School of Mathematical and Physical Sciences. He then returned to the university in 2017 to undertake an RSE Enterprise Fellowship. During the fellowship, Leon used the data analysis skills he’d learned studying astrophysics to calculate where to plant trees and create habitats in order to reduce the risk of flooding in landscapes.
Leon Baruah, Viridian Logic
University of Sussex and the Sussex Wildlife Trust,