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Nature: Forests and floods, by William F. Laurance

October 01, 2007

Nature: Forests and floods, by William F. Laurance

“One strategy for reducing catastrophic floods invokes protecting or regenerating forests that lie upstream of the threatened region. Support for this approach comes from a global-scale analysis of flood risk.”

“One strategy for reducing catastrophic floods invokes protecting or regenerating forests that lie upstream of the threatened region. Support for this approach comes from a global-scale analysis of flood risk.”

“Floods can be devastating, especially in developing countries, which are already struggling to improve the welfare of their people. Floods in such countries during the 1990s took almost 100,000 lives, displaced more than 300 million people and caused more than US$1 trillion in damage to properties.

To mitigate flooding, several nations are investing in projects to restrict the loss of forests or to reforest cleared lands that lie upstream of the potential flood region. But these strategies are controversial. Some argue that the link between forests and flooding is too weak to justify the often large outlays needed to retain or recover forests. In the journal Global Change Biology, however, Bradshaw et al. provide strong correlative evidence that native forests do reduce the frequency and severity of floods in developing nations.”

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