Protecting forests is key to conserve water resources, says expert

July 22, 2018

TEHRAN — Forest are essential to water cycle and protecting forest plays a key role in saving water and reducing evaporation, a professor of geology at Shahid Beheshti University has said.

“Unfortunately we have overlooked the significance of protecting forest and afforestation and we have just kept losing forests for the past few year, while forest can be instrumental in saving water supplies,” ISNA quoted Mohammad Yazdi as saying. 

In [Iranian calendar year of] 1320 (March 1941 to March 1942) forests in Iran stretched over 20 million hectares of lands, Yazdi said, adding that by [Iranian calendar year of] 1357 (March 1977 to March 1978) the area of forest land declined to an estimated 17 million hectares.

Yazdi went on to say that figures indicate that now the forest area in Iran is measured at 14 million hectare which constitute 8 to 9 percent of the country’s total land area and is relatively speaking pretty low. 

In an article published in April 2017 in Sciencing website titled “how does deforestation affect the weather?” it is stated that deforestation, the depletion of forests and other wild flora in woodlands, has significant negative effects on the weather. These range from local distortions to contributions to global climate change. Deforestation removes the ability of the forest to sequester carbon, absorb sunlight, process water and block the wind.

Deforestation both releases carbon dioxide from the plants that are cut down and removes the ability of the forest to sequester carbon. Additionally deforestation causes land to reflect more sunlight, altering the air currents above and increasing the variance of local temperatures, which become more sensitive to changes in sunlight. 

Deforestation can also affect evapotranspiration. Plant life draws water from water in the soil. This water travels up the roots and stem to the leaves, where it evaporates through the stoma. This process is called evapotranspiration. Deforestation can end this process by leaving the groundwater locked in the soil and cutting off the source of air moisture. The net result is that the local environment becomes dryer as moisture which aids in cloud formation is not stored in the forests anymore. 

Furthermore deforestation removes the ability of forests to act as a barrier for the wind, leading to higher local wind speeds and cutting off the circulation of warmth and moisture.

The management of water and forests are closely connected and require innovative strategies on the part of policy maker.

MQ/MG

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