Deforestation of rainforests isn’t always a bad thing

A curious article was posted on the green blogosphere today. An environmentalist online publication named Triplepundit had a news story attempting to pull at people’s heart strings, decrying the potential demise of Indonesia’s Leuser Ecosystem rain forest at the hands of (pun intended) greedy palm oil companies.

Since palm oil is a substance used to make a variety of products like cookies, ice cream, shampoo, lipstick and pet food, Indonesia and Malaysia have rainforests that are plentiful with the product. However, the newszine cites a report done by the Rainforest Action Network which states that as a result of procurement of palm oil in Leuser, it has resulted in unchecked mining, logging, industrial pulp plantations and poaching in the region, this vital ecosystem is facing a perfect storm of destruction. Oh the horror! What is to be done? The rainforests are surely doomed!

However, a report released today by Dr. Craig Woodard who is a researcher at Australia’s University of Queensland states that deforestation of rainforests can be a bane but can also be a boon. The study points out that human impacts on the environment, such as deforestation, is not always a bad thing. According to Dr. Woodward, as quoted by the UQ News,:

We found that deforestation can significantly increase the amount of water flowing into wetlands and can even create new wetlands, he said.

“In the past, wetland managers have focused mainly on how deforestation has increased catchment erosion and the transport of sediment and nutrients into wetlands.

The news report also says:

The researchers analysed a global database of 245,000 wetlands and found that water levels in nine to 12 per cent, including 20 to 40 per cent of wetlands protected under the Ramsar Convention on Wetlands of International Importance, were increased due to human deforestation activities.

They found that forest clearance increased the amount of water inflow to these wetland catchments by up to 15 per cent as forests act like “biological pumps” that increase the transport of water into the atmosphere and reduce the amount available to groundwater, rivers, and wetlands.

Increased water inflow can have a major effect by increasing water depth and water persistence in temporary wetlands, and creating new wetlands, Dr Woodward said.

This results in a major change in the plants and animals living in the area and can increase biodiversity.

According to Woodard, reforestation is not always a good thing either:

Reforestation is a natural step towards wetland catchment restoration, but in some cases this could result in the disappearance of the very wetland that we seek to protect.

While Dr. Woodard praises wetlands as a vital part of the environment for providing not only a habitat for plants and animals but also help clean the water of pollutants and reduce flood impact. The doctor says that his study should give wetland managers better information on how to assess water quality resulting from reforestation. In other words, reforestation can result in negatively affecting water quality.

Not only does gang green seek to vilify companies like PepsiCo, Kraft Foods, Campbell Soup Company and Heinz for their efforts extracting palm oil from rainforests in Indonesia or Malaysia, environmentalist conservation efforts as well as political efforts also harm the the environment they claim to want to save. In short, they want to screw the ecosystem and humans at the same time. Can’t say they aren’t consistent.

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