Trees planted and landscape restored to help reduce flood risk in Calderdale

A multimillion-pound project to reduce flood risk in West Yorkshire has seen more than 350  hectares of upland landscape restored and more than 100,000 trees planted.

Saturday, 10th July 2021, 8:00 am
Over 100,000 new trees were planted at Gorpley Reservoir as part of an ambitious project to reduce flood risk. Credit: National Trust Victoria Holland
Over 100,000 new trees were planted at Gorpley Reservoir as part of an ambitious project to reduce flood risk. Credit: National Trust Victoria Holland

The Growing Resilience project, which was funded by the West Yorkshire Combined authority, focused on land in the Colne and Calder valleys, including at Hardcastle Crags, Marsden Moor and Gorpley Reservoir.

Over two years, the project focused on working with nature to reduce flood risk to communities living downstream in the Leeds City Region.

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The work carried out included the creation of more than 800 leaky dams, which slow the flow of water into rivers including the Calder and the Colne.

These are made from natural materials such as willow, stone and tree trunks. These leaky dams also help re-wet the surround environment, helping more diverse plant life to flourish and thereby supporting rare wildlife.

The project also involved ambitious partnership working. At Gorpley Reservoir, a Yorkshire Water site, 112,000 mixed native trees were planted. These trees were provided by the Woodland Trust and planted in part by the community group Treesponsibility

They will form part of the White Rose Forest. Leaky dams, ponds and bank stabilisation was also an important part of the work at Gorpley. These all contribute to reducing flood risk, as well as improving water quality.

At Hardcastle Crags, the National Trust team installed large leaky dams on Hebden Water, building on previous work by volunteers from Slow The Flow. The National Trust’s car park at Clough Hole was also upgraded to help reduce flood risk, using sustainable drainage and hedges to help slow the flow of water.

At Marsden Moor, as well as building and monitoring leaky dams, the project involved planting specialist moorland species like sphagnum moss and bilberry. 42 hectares of invasive species control was also undertaken by specialist teams who removed rhododendron with chainsaws, winches and helicopters. This work was carried out in partnership with Moors For The Future Partnership, who carry out peat restoration work across the Pennines and the Peak District. These processes all help re-wet the moorland and slow the flow of water across National Trust land.

National Trust project manager, Rosie Holdsworth said, “I’m incredibly proud of the work we’ve done with our partners during this project. We’ve made a real difference to these special landscapes and can already see the benefits this work is having for nature. We are continuing to work with our partner organisations to monitor the impact on river levels.”

“Landowners like Yorkshire Water have played a crucial part in making this happen. Our partnership with them will continue and we’ll be looking to expand this work across West Yorkshire over the coming years.”

“It’s also been so inspiring to see how much of the work was carried out by dedicated volunteers, like Treepsonsibility and the National Trust volunteers. We can’t thank them enough.”

To find out more about Natural Flood Management in West Yorkshire, visit