Floods in a Deforested Pakistan
Written by Plant With Purpose on October 15, 2010 in General
by Brittany Sheppard, PR & Events Intern
Despite being announced at last weekend’s Planting Hope Gala, I think it is worth celebrating the news here, that Plant With Purpose has now planted over five million trees and counting since its establishment. It is difficult for me to fathom a number as large as one million, let alone five million! And yet, even greater than this magnitude, is the valuable impact these trees collectively have on the surrounding environment and communities they are planted in. One beneficial role that trees play in the event of heavy rainfall is the prevention of soil erosion and mudslides. A wider area of tree cover, formed by the top branches and leaves of trees, leads to a lessened direct impact of too much rain on soil. Trees then hinder soil breakup with their roots and their added level of organic matter in the soil, which allows water to be more readily absorbed.
The significance of this specific function of trees has reached new heights as environmentalists are now saying that such assistance could have made the difference in impact of the recent floods in Pakistan. Experts believe that the gravity of the floods, which are now considered to be “the nation’s worst natural calamity,” was greatly contributed to by Pakistan’s heavy state of deforestation. The history of deforestation in Pakistan starts about 35 years back, when members of the Taliban, along with timber businesses, illegally exploited the nearby forests as a means for easy revenue. While much of deforestation is attributed to these illegal activities, poverty is considered to be another major contribution. Decades later, the forests, or lack there of, proved defenseless against the heavy monsoon rains that struck the country on July 22nd.
The rains flooded the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Sindh, Punjab and Balochistan regions of Pakistan, killing an estimated 2,000 people and leaving hundreds of thousands others injured and displaced. Flood victims are now dealing with issues of food, shelter, health, and restoration of their livelihoods. Farmers, for instance, face devastated lands and the loss of this and next season’s crop supply. With these resources gone, so are any sources of a steady income. While trees themselves could not have prevented the largest monsoon to hit Pakistan since the 1930’s, it is believed that they could have lessened the impact of the floods considerably. Please keep those in Pakistan in your prayers, as well as the work of Plant With Purpose to reverse deforestation. While I am extremely saddened by the recent tragedies that have hit this country, I find hope in Plant With Purpose’s efforts to help prevent such disasters from continuing around the world.
For more information on Deforestation in Pakistan, please visit: http://www.latimes.com/news/nationworld/world/la-fg-pakistan-logging-20101013,0,4030020.story