Express & Star

Learning from beavers to stem the River Severn floods

Beaver dams act to restrict the flow on rivers

Flooding is becoming a grim routine for millions of people who live along the length of the River Severn.

And the situation will only get worse, with climate change leading to once-in-a-generation events now happening every few years.

There have been eight named storms this winter alone and the barriers have been up frequently in the last 12 months in towns including Bewdley, Ironbridge and Shrewsbury.

But barriers are not the perfect answer. While they protect communities, they actually act to keep water in the river, often leading to issues for communities further downstream.

So what if something could be done to slow up the River Severn before it even arrives in towns across Shropshire and the Wyre Forest?

That is exactly what is planned through the Severn Valley Management Scheme.

Beaver dams restrict the flow on rivers, a technique that can be adopted

It wants to use techniques that already happen naturally, such replicating natural ‘leaky dams’ that are created by beavers and that act to slow up the flow of water. Extensive tree planting can also help reduce the flow, as the creation of man-made meanders, so that straight fast-flowing stretches of the Severn are instead twisted. The management of flood plains and catchment areas are also techniques that can be adopted, catching flood waters upstream before they can damage populated areas.