EnvironmentNatural Disasters

How Does Deforestation Lead to Frequent Floods and Droughts?

Together with their extensive root systems, trees act as a vast sponge soaking in the excess water. However, when a large number of trees are cut down, the root system is destroyed, and there is nothing to soak in the extra water, which flows freely, flooding the entire area. In simple words, Deforestation leads to decreased water holding capability of soil. This causes excessive water flow into the ground, resulting in floods.

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Additionally, Deforestation also leads to droughts in some areas. Deforestation is a leading cause of climate change, resulting in higher temperatures and erratic weather. Trees regulate CO2 in the atmosphere. Also, together with soil, they hold the excess of CO2 within themselves, thus preventing the increased level of carbon dioxide in the environment. However, in the absence of trees, all the extra CO2 is released into the atmosphere, which leads to global warming, and unnatural weather change. Climate change and erratic weather patterns directly lead to lower rainfall and severe drought in some areas.

What Do You Mean by Deforestation?

Excessive cutting of trees from a large area for commercial or agricultural activities is known as Deforestation. Earth has lost about two-thirds of its tree cover, and Deforestation is the primary cause. Several reasons constitute excessive shaving of Earth’s green cover.

Here are some of them;

  • Clearing forest regions to construct buildings, companies, and industries.
  • Growing food and lodging requirements of the ever-increasing population need more land for crop production, which is recovered by clearing forests.
  • Industries that directly depend on forests for raw materials like wood also contribute to Deforestation.

How Does Deforestation Lead to Floods?

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Deforestation leads to continuous floods and dry seasons. When there are trees, the soil has strong water-retention capacity, and it prevents the danger of floods in the heavy rainfall during rainy seasons. However, there is nothing to check the heavy flow of water in the absence of trees, which leads to floods.

Trees firmly hold soil, and their roots act as a water-absorbing system that absorbs excess surface water and funnels it to underground reservoirs. However, when a large number of trees are cut down, the natural blockage that prevents the unchecked flow of water is gone. Moreover, there is nothing to hold the soil in the absence of trees, which flows away in the influence of running water.

Therefore, when there is heavy rainfall, the water doesn’t seep into the ground and isn’t consumed by the trees, leading to flooding.

  • Several studies have pointed out that the increased frequency of floods in a particular area is directly linked to the decreasing tree cover.
  • Deforestation increases the danger of flood disasters, which kill many individuals and cause billions of dollars of financial losses every year.
  • According to specialists from Australia’s Charles Darwin University and the National University of Singapore, with each 10% increase in Deforestation, the danger of flood increased up to 28 percent.

Examples of Flooding Caused by Deforestation

In the absence of trees cover, heavy rainfall in the deforested regions can bring severe destruction in the form of floods. There is ample evidence that points to the connection between Deforestation and flooding. Here are some examples that showcase how Deforestation has resulted in flooding in several parts of the world.

In Africa

  • Deforestation in West Africa has resulted in a higher frequency of floods, increasing the danger of terrible flooding in the locale’s water-facing urban communities.
  • In 2017, Freetown witnessed a dangerous flood that led to landslides, causing the deaths of up to 1,000 people. The primary reason for the flood was heavy Deforestation in that area.
  • In 2015, Every worldwide news was filled with the stories of floods rampaging Malawi. Lives were lost, homes and harvests were destroyed, and no land was left for agriculture. Interestingly, Malawi is the world’s fifth-most noteworthy area with heavy Deforestation.

In Haiti

  • In 2004, a heavy flood in Haiti killed many individuals. The main reason for the flood was that a total of 98% of its jungle was gone. Nothing remained to check the heavy flow of water leading to flooding.
  • More than 800 people were dead across Haiti from floods brought forth by Tropical Storm Jeanne throughout the week, and up to 1,000 were absent and assumed dead.

In India

  • In 2019, as per specialists at the Indian Institute of Science (IISc), Deforestation of the Western Ghats led to unexpected flooding in the two states of Karnataka and Kerala.
  • For the third time in the past twenty years, Heavy rains submerged a large area in the Bicholim and Sattari talukas. The leading cause of unchecked cutting of trees in that area.

How Does Deforestation Lead to Drought?

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Not only floods, Deforestation, can also lead to severe drought in some places.

  • Firstly, trees channel water to the underground reservoir, thereby replenishing the aquifers.
  • Secondly, trees play a significant role in the water cycle. They release water in the form of vapor into the atmosphere. The resulting evapotranspiration process helps regulate rainfall in the area.
  • Cutting a massive number of trees disrupts the whole water replenishing cycle, causing less rainfall and drying of underground water.
  • The amount of groundwater reduces, unable to supply water to lakes and reservoirs, resulting in water shortage and droughts.

Examples Of Drought Caused by Deforestation

There are many examples given below;

In Africa

  • Experts believe that widespread Deforestation in the region is to blame for the region’s frequent droughts and floods.
  • Africa can be described by fluctuating environmental conditions going from dry to clammy. Due to Deforestation, the ecological changes are becoming extremely dangerous for the region, resulting in the continuous event of floods and dry spells.
  • Kenya – one of the nations in East Africa severely hit by droughts, also has a high rate of Deforestation.

Guinea region

  • The entire country is at risk because of climate change directly linked to deforestation, according to a report released in July 2018 by the Guinean government.
  • Guinea loses about 35,000 hectares of woodland (forests) per year, according to the Ministry of the Environment. Environment specialists have raised concerns that if Deforestation remains unchecked, dry spells will only increase in frequency and severity.

In India

  • As per the 2021 data, 255 local districts have received lower than average rainfall.
  • Bihar, Jharkhand, West Bengal, Gujarat, Tamil Nadu, Meghalaya, Karnataka, Arunachal Pradesh, and Goa have experienced droughts to an extent greater than 50%.
  • The farming industry is going through a severe crisis due to insufficient and uneven rainfall.

In the United States

  • Studies show that cutting down the Amazon forests might lead to severe droughts in California.
  • Furthermore, recent drought cycles in Texas and New Mexico are most likely connected to Deforestation in the Amazon Forest.
  • The amazon fire of 2020 had consumed approximately 7,600 square kilometers by October that year, which led to severe droughts in the Amazon Forest.

How To Prevent Deforestation?

Deforestation severely impacts Earth’s ecosystems, causing some areas to submerge in the water while desertifying other regions. Given the concerns that Deforestation brings, there is an immediate need to prevent the cutting of trees.

Here are some steps that can avert Deforestation;

  • Most importantly, we should promote afforestation which promotes planting more trees to tackle Deforestation.
  • The Paper industry is heavily dependent on trees for raw materials. Therefore, we should emphasize more on recycling paper and reusing it.
  • Public authorities should take extreme actions against people‚ÄĒespecially against those individuals who are illegally cutting down trees.

Conclusion

The study results indicate that the future impacts of Deforestation will only worsen with time, leading to more severe floods and droughts.

Hopefully, this article will help readers how pressing the issue of Deforestation is. Incidentally, Deforestation is a disaster for us and the upcoming generation, undermining the environment, reducing water supplies, and causing floods and drought. If we don’t take action now, the Earth will be stripped of its green cover, posing a danger to human existence. So let’s come and unite together to prevent it.

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