The indiscriminate cutting down of World forests for commercial and agricultural uses has an imposing negative impact on the human civilization and river system. The current study aims to understand the consequences of depletion of forest on communities that live in the river and human communities living on floodplains. The study will comprehensively deal with the aspects that are impacted by the loss of forest which includes the impact on the environmental conditions, water quality, and river system, and so on. The study also aims to forward recommendations that can be adopted by taking actions and highlighting the impact of reforestation on altering the adverse environmental changes and improving the ecology system.
Deforestation lead refers to cutting down forests on a massive scale which results in damaging the quality of soil and land. The forest covers 30 % of the land area in the world, but the considerable size of forests is being cut for obtaining timber, paper, and wood products and clearing grounds for agriculture. One of the biggest drivers of cutting down trees in the forest is agriculture. The farmers clear vast areas of forest to obtain land for planting crops and raising their livestock. The farmers either cut down the trees or burn them in the process known as slash and burn agriculture. The forest is also evident in the availability of land for urban sprawls and dwellings.
The forest provides food shelter clothing fresh water few security and some rare traditional medicines. There are 60 million indigenous people who are primarily dependent on the forest which is also home to 80% of the Terrestrial biodiversity of the world (Olsoy et al. 2016).
There has been growing concern regarding the conservation of forests and that have been empirical pieces of evidence to support that nature plays an essential role in the well-being of humanity. A mentioned by Keller & DeVecchio (2016), there have been considerable claims made regarding the fact that forests provide and natural protection from floods and it help in maintaining the levels of water bodies from overflowing into floodplains and average drylands. They have been considerable flooding in the river catchment area in the last few years which results in two dimensions of properties worth millions of dollars and also destroys the agrarian population. Forest loss also results in additional vulnerability to landscapes that are more prone to floods particular those lying in the river catchment areas. The mechanism can be well understood that with the loss of forest vegetation there is an increased risk of runoff resulting from the reduction of interception of rainfall and evaporating water from the canopy of the tree. According to Terborgh & Peres (2017), this is also coupled with a decrement of hydraulic connectivity present in the soil which leads to natural habitat loss and risk of severity of floods.
There have been considerable studies and researchers reported on understanding the complex development of river catchment-specific models and prediction of the frequency of temporal floods. There have been researches conducted to establish that the flood frequency in a country increases as the forest is depleted. The studies conducted have undertaken factors of correlation such as total forest cover and correlation with flat frequency and frequency of flood which is correlated with the loss of forest cover over the period.
As suggested by Von Randow et al. (2017), human actions have practically altered the image of the environment by indiscriminate cutting of trees which has severe impacts on the linkages of the ecological system. The most significant impact in regards to cutting down of the forest has needed to impact on the upstream and downstream relationship of water resources. The forest managers taking action on the upstream have significantly impacted the human communities which live downstream of water resources. Floods and erosions have become more frequent which has triggered the urgent need for hydro solidarity prevalent between upstream forests managers and uses of downstream waters. It is essential to maintain the arrangement to benefit the upstream dwellers and downstream dwellers as well as maintain the ecological safety of resources downstream uses (Cardoso et al. 2018).
Figure 1: Direct drivers of change affected forest depletion
(Source: Cardoso et al. 2018)
It is essential that to understand the consequences of deforestation on water sources as that directly impact the human communities which leaf on the river floodplains. The life of human communities is interlinked with the water supply which is profoundly impacted by the forest covers. It is essential to establish the impact of cutting down of trees on rivers and water supply which directly and indirectly impact upon the lives of human communities living in the river catchment area (Schindler et al. 2016).
The forest in a general sense uses more water in comparison to shorter vegetations or agricultural production as the forest is open to evaporation rates. There is also the prevalence of lower runoff surface and groundwater recharge which impacts the water yield. According to Reed (2015), with cutting down of used number of trees for commercial and agricultural purposes leads to the sizable area which is left open and disturbs the forest management practices of use of forest water which influences the tree species and ecological diversity.
Forest is the primary source for producing a flow of water during dry seasons. As stated by Wagner, Yap & Yap (2015), it is possible that in the agricultural catchment area which has degraded the extra water infiltration can be associated with forested land. As the forests provide extra evaporation loss which increases the floor in the dry season because of the high respiration rate helping in bringing more rain.
The forest helps in mitigating local floods and influences the appearance of the extreme flood in the catchment areas. It helps in reducing flooding in downstream flooding through hydraulic roughness which combines flow resistance restricting the flowing water with the forest through its litter tree trunk twigs. As mentioned by Milman and Warner (2016), this leads to the synchronization of flood flow and the slowing down of the flow of water in the river when the supply of water is more. This reduces the predicament of extreme flooding in river catchment areas and saves the agricultural produce and human settlements which may otherwise be destructed on a large scale because of the extreme flooding.
National forests and plantations protect the supplies of drinking water. The forest area provides water which is free of pesticides and chemicals and can be used for more intensive land use suggests agriculture. According to Wohl, Lininger & Baron (2017), the presence of forest also helps in reducing pollutants from the water such as Sulphur and nitrogen which causes acidification of water. Indiscriminate cutting down of trees affects the water quality in the downstream catchment areas of rivers that have a severe negative impact.
As mentioned by Goudie (2018), It is a universally accepted fact that the forest rights and protection of soil and also lead to the reduction in the rate of erosion. It also fosters sediment delivery to rivers. Indiscriminate cutting of trees for Forestry operations such as rural cultivation road construction Timber harvesting has resulted in sediment losses and has turned the soil erosion-prone.
As stated by Wiekenkamp et al. (2015), climatic changes have been the result of large-scale cutting down of trees in the forest. The climate change has not only affected the humans only but does thermal stress can be filed on aquatic life as well. The sheets provided by the forest helps in the reduction of thermal stress on aquatic life which is intensified by climate warming. With the large-scale depletion of forest areas, there has been concern over global warming factors that impact human civilization.
Freshwater fisheries are in decline because of the reduced level of water in the aquatic ecosystem triggered by the cutting down of forests indiscriminately. As mentioned by Winckler, Reick&Pongratz (2017), the water quality is situated in the River system because of forest depletion as forest soil and vegetation acts as natural filters for improving water polity and making it nutrient-rich which helps in the survival of Aquatic and freshwater organisms in rivers. With the indiscriminate cutting of rivers, there is a potential impact on freshwater fishing. This can be seen in the Amazon floodplains which have seen a marked decrement in the availability of food for fish because of deforestation (Daigneault, Brown & Gawith, 2016).
By the findings put forward by Leps et al. (2016), it can be said that rivers are an essential source for supporting the daily activities of rural people and communities. However, usage of river water directly impacts the environment both in positive as well as negative ways. From a positive perspective, it can be said that depending on river water has allowed communities to make use of freshwater which in turn has contributed to ensuring the health and wellbeing of the people depending on it. On the other hand, an increase in the level of nutrients in river water causes algae boom to reduce the level of oxygen in the water. This results in the drastic killing of aquatic life.
Figure: Usage of water in the river
(Source: Hari, 2016)
It has been observed that thousands of trees are being cut so that vacant spaces can be utilized and cut log of woods can be used for timbers. Communities residing beside the river and causing deforestation are developing chemical waste such as mercury, sulfur, grade chemicals, electronic equipment, fluorescent light bulb, and dye which in turn is contaminating the river water (Hari, 2016). Pollutants which are there in the ground get washed away from the soil into river water thereby contaminating the water. In order to set up industries, trees are being cut down, and any leakage in their storage tanks can cause a water spill.
Agriculture and household activities
Communities living on rivers can make use of this water for agriculture and household purpose such as providing habitat for plants and animals, washing utensils and clothes, and preparing food with that water. However, Logue et al. (2016) argued the fact that such activities on river water have to lead to water pollution. This, in turn, has affected the entire freshwater ecosystem thereby also having a negative impact on plants and animals dependent on it. Pesticides which are used for killing insects when used in farmland enter the groundwater as well as surface water in large quantities. This in turn also causes pollution in river water.
Keeping in mind the situation as mentioned above, it can be said that communities residing beside the river are utilization river water for their drinking purpose too. Moreover, as a result of household activities, this freshwater ultimately gets contaminated. Drinking this water directly or indirectly, therefore, tends to cause several infections and is, therefore, hazardous for health. As per the ideas of Stoll et al. (2016), this can cause nausea, diarrhea, dehydration, stomach cramping, and can even cause death.
Human waste from communities has been considered to be containing dangerous bacteria which easily get spread on water supply bodies like that of the river (Tonkin, Heino & Altermatt, 2018). The presence of these bacteria, in turn, causes water contamination which in turn requires regular monitoring of the river. However, a lack of investment can lead to a lack of access to pollution control types of equipment.
Ecological principles and theories:
Along with the urbanization process in the modern era, where tree cutting is a daily habit of human beings, all the river systems and floodplains become disrupted due to the scarcity of their spaces. In that aspect, from secondary sources of knowledge, there are enormous principles found to be present to maintain the equilibrium of nature, floodplains, and river systems. In all of the cases, most of the time, millions of people, animals, and other parts of nature become affected. Such principles are followed below which are very useful to mitigate such problems.
In this principle, it is proposed that all the rivers need sufficient spaces like “rooms” (Wagner et al., 2018). Due to industrialization, urbanization a rapid amount of trees becomes removed. As a result, the succession power becomes reduced along with the water retention capacity of the river. In this way, another crucial impact is reflected by the mining process. By all of these activities, the soil is now losing its capacity. Due to this depreciation of soil the rivers are affected by small spaces. When the river loses its power to retain its water body within its bed, that time fold occurs. In its consequences, all the animals, people, and other living beings of the flood plains become affected.
In this agroecological principle, the sponge process, soil retention process, and winter bed or lowering of food plains-related activities are emphasized. In the conclusion of the entire principle, the author provided the closure that, maintenance of trees and flora in nature is very crucial to make the river system in balance. As a result, it will help the river systems to flow in its rhythm. However, when due to soil retention, succession the river will lose its capacity to flow in a narrow space, the river system will be pressurized, and it will result from the flood.
From the perspectives of flood prevention management and the flood rehabilitation system, longitudinal and transverse aspects of the river bed are highly crucial (Terborgh & Peres, 2017). Due to ecological integration maintenance, in the flood management system, biodiversity pattern according to the local landscape, scale-sensitivity is highly crucial. From the concept of river continuity, the scale level of a particular landscape is highly significant. According to this ecological principle, the analysis of ecological networks and measuring the configuration of habitats are necessary as the flood management system is variable according to the transverse and longitudinal aspects of a river. Dynamic nature of the river-based abiotic systems, where the presence of plants according to the measured gradients is highly crucial. This principle also supports the principles of flood pulse concepts. According to both of these theories, the difference between plants and lands is very crucial. Otherwise, all the river has to carry the slits, stones, and others. At this time when other soil is also soluted with water due to less fewer trees beside the area of Riverside, water needs more space to flow. Otherwise, it overwhelms the floodplains and creates a flood. From both of the principles, it may be a closure that, removal of timbers due to industrialization or urbanization, there is an excellent effect on the flood.
In this discussion, transverse aspects are also crucial. Such transverse aspects are the animals, living beings. All of these aspects and their activities of lifestyle are also related to river floods and its consequences.
During the measurement of the physic-chemical measurement of the river ecosystem, it opts to provide a potential protection system to the riverside flood plains. Such protection includes tree plantation programming, people awareness camps, and other spatial planning. According to this ecological principle, it is essential to identify the hindering obstacles which interrupt the natural behavior of the river (Milman & Warner, 2016). After identification of such minima, people can take proper steps to remove those minimal parameters, and in this way floods management and rehabilitation will be completed.
On the other hand, from large secondary sources, it is presented that; plantation is a great way to prove a strength to the soil. These soils and root systems of plants will keep the riverbed according to its size. As a result, the river can flow flawlessly. So, the plantation is highly crucial along with ceasing the practice of deforestation also. Along with the river flood management strategy, the timber management procedure is also very crucial. These activities not only provide a significant step to protect floods but also to protect the environmental pollutions also.
All of these ecological principles mainly emphasized over the identification of hindrances in the way of smooth continuity of river. It is primarily very crucial for the safety concerns of the dwellers of the floodplains. As due to the urbanization process most of the forest lands are removed, so soils besides the river plains become loosed or solute in the river water. It maximizes the pressure of water, and as a result, when the flood occurs, it provides an excellent reflection over peoples of such riverside food plain dwellers.
This ecological modeling is highly crucial to measure the pressure of water flow in a river and assess flood in the riverside flood plains. It will help the dwellers to take proper steps. To materialize such an ecological model, it is crucial to check all the transverse and longitudinal aspects of the river, measure all the pressure-creating objects of the river along with measure the number of forestlands or trees across the riverside area. In this ecological modeling system, a computerized data storage system and satellite supervision are needed. Through all of these parameters, it is now possible to check whether, and the river is prone to flood or not. On the other hand, it is also crucial to measure that, what is the amount of forest land and its potentiality to prevent the flood from what degree of water pressure in the river bed according to the river bed size.
According to this flood prevention model, river ecology is highly crucial. In this river flood preventive model, sometimes, blocks are provided in the way of the river in such a system where the water body can flow perfectly, but all the stones, slits, soils, muds become centered aside. As a result, it reduces the water pressure from the river body. In this way, also the flood can be prevented. Such an ecological model-based system was previously implemented in the river Merz. When the river is controlling many of its branches on its entire pathway, and those blocks are provided, it takes the shape of a DNA spiral. For that reason, this model of Schauberger, a great engineer is also called the DNA Spiral model (Keller &DeVecchio 2016).
Here, the Author has also emphasized the forest lands and the plants on the way of a river. Forestlands and woods on the way of a river filter only the water and provide the way to be flown. All the mud, silts, clays, and stones become segregated by their root systems.
Rather than these models and principles, it is found to be present in the latest news of World Forest Research Centre, that, woodlands have the power to slow the flow of the river body and which is the primary thing to avoid the occurrence of flood in the riverside plains. It is also proved from the flood prevention activities, and camps that occurred in the Northern region of Ireland. From this report, it is also informed that plantation in a riverside area has the power to lower the risk of flood up to 25% annually. The evidence is also present from the Defy Rivers where grasslands have reduced the happening of the flood in a threefold model. From these ecological models, based principles are focused on the plantation and presence of forestlands across the riverside. It is proved from multidimensional studies that, forests, grasslands, or woods have the power to reduce the flow of river water and in this way, forests can alleviate the chances of flood also.
Rather than, hard engineering projects besides the riversides including the dam, bridge establishments, time and cost-effective soft engineering-based projects are also very significant.
Such flood management systems are discussed below.
According to this zoning system, in these riverside areas, all the dwellers are prohibited from making any activities that can damage the river basin. Such as the establishment of large buildings, running heavy vehicles, and others. Such a zoning system also has a problem that, due to such prohibition, people cannot make their lifestyle like an upgraded place and make their lifestyle a better one (Hari, 2016).
At this point in the flood management system, the natural and artificial flood management system becomes merged (Reed, 2015). According to this system, the plantation in the riverside area is highly crucial, but it should be according to the engineer’s planning. Such afforestation has the potentiality to reduce the surface-oriented water run-off through enhancing the degree of interception and riverbed storage capacity. This soft-engineering-based afforestation has another advantage in that it can prevent unwanted mass wastage. As a result, soil entering possibilities become low along with improved water carrying capacity of the river. It is very much prevalent in the Riverside area where farmers can utilize the entire area as the grazing land, and plants also can do their activities, and riverside society can smoothly continue their livelihood.
When the riverside area becomes narrow, the stripes of Riparian buffers, a thin strip of vegetative plants are implemented. It is also very impactful.
However, in most of the cases, the afforestation-based forests are utilized as grazing land where natural diversity provides excellent support to maintain the stability of riverside ecology.
It is found to be present from large projects across the world that, afforestation process along with food plain zoning is highly useful to provide a safe lifestyle to the riverside dwellers.
Restoration of wetlands beside the riverbed is also highly impactful. When the basin is wet, or it will be a marshland, then it will have a highly effective water restoration capacity. As a result, the water volume will be restricted within the river bed. Such wetlands have a great significance to maintain the river ecology as the habitat of numerous flora and fauna. It makes the river ecology full of biological diversity.
It can be concluded from the entire discussion that the indiscriminate cutting of trees for commercial and agricultural purposes hurts the River system and the supply of water. The indiscriminate cutting of tree has an impact on aquatic life in the River system and also impacts human civilization the consequences of which leads to devastation and extremities. It is essential to understand the negative impact of deforestation which can lead to adverse climatic and ecological misbalance which will severely impact the human communities living in the floodplains. It has been derived from the study that reforestation and hydro solidarity are the need of the hour for undertaking steps that can alter the negative environmental impact that the world is currently facing.
There are specific recommendations that can be implemented for assisting in altering the negative impact of deforestation-
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