Day By Day

Friday, October 14, 2005

Another Environmental Scare Story Demolished

For years now we have been told by the greenies that deforestation increased flooding. Well, it isn't true.

Reuters [yes Reuters!] reports:

OSLO — Deforestation is often wrongly blamed for causing floods, like in Guatemala this month, under a myth that has skewed agricultural policies, an international report said on Thursday.

"There is no scientific evidence linking large-scale flooding to deforestation," the U.N.'s Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and the Indonesia-based Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR) said in a report.

The frequency of major floods in the past 120 years, back to the late 19th century when forests were far more abundant, has been stable worldwide, it said. That implied that deforestation was not a cause of flooding.

It said devastation from Hurricane Stan in central America this month had been widely and wrongly blamed on excessive runoff caused by deforestation. The same was said about recent floods in China, Thailand and Vietnam.

The report said it was incorrect to believe that forests acted as giant sponges that soak up water and release it during dry seasons. After heavy rains, excess water runs off waterlogged forest floors like off other surfaces.

The report said tree roots were too shallow to prevent major mudslides, like those that entombed hundreds of people in Guatemalan villages this week.

"Most people automatically believe that if there's a large flood then loggers and deforestation are responsible," David Kaimowitz, director-general of CIFOR, told Reuters during a visit to Oslo. "In most cases it's not true."

Still, it said forests could play a role in minimising water runoff in some localised floods but did not have an impact on severe widespread floods.

Read it here.

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