Deforestation the cause of flood


DEFORESTATION is to be blamed for Wednesday’s floods in Cameron Highlands that claimed at least three lives.

Last year, there was another flood at nearby Bertam Valley, also in Cameron Highlands, that claimed four lives.

Deforestation plays many roles in the flooding equation because trees prevent sediment runoffs and forests hold more water than farms or grasslands.

The flood equation is simple. If a river cannot handle the load of water it is required to carry, it will rise above its banks. This is when floods occur.

Research has shown that extreme deforestation played a major part in the huge Yangtze River floods of 1998.

This is how a single tree can actually help in reducing the effects of flooding.

First, some rainwater stays on the leaves and evaporates into the atmosphere.

Second, its leaves reduce the impact of raindrops on the soil, which causes less soil erosion.

Third, its roots absorb water from the soil, making the soil drier so it can absorb more rainwater, and finally the roots of the tree hold the soil in place, reducing the movement of sediment which can reduce the capacity of the river downstream from breaking its banks.

The release of sediment due to deforestation has a bigger impact on floods.

The eroded sediment will not only choke rivers but will also cause mudflow that is much more destructive than normal flood water.

There will be some parties who will blame the El Nino effect or global warming for the flood. But deep down, they know that deforestation and illegal vegetable farmers are to be blamed.

If you mess with mother nature, you will have to pay a price sooner or later.

LIONEL PERERA

Port Dickson

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