Land use adjustments may cause extra intense flooding • Earth.com

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Whereas the local weather and biodiversity impacts of land use adjustments have been broadly documented, not a lot is understood about how adjustments in land use could have an effect on native water cycles. In a brand new examine from the College of Göttingen, researchers have discovered that the growth of palm oil plantations and different monocultures is inflicting extra intense flooding throughout Indonesia. 

The findings counsel that flooding related to speedy land use change is triggered by the interplay of complicated components – together with soil degradation and the development of flood safety dams. 

For the investigation, the researchers didn’t depend on science alone. They carried out virtually 100 interviews with Indonesian land managers, residents of native villages, and decision-makers within the Jambi province of Sumatra. 

The examine was additionally targeted on measurements of precipitation, river and groundwater ranges, soil properties, and land use maps. 

“Many research on the connection between land use adjustments and flooding are solely based mostly on analyses by particular person disciplines and thus present solely fragmentary insights into the underlying processes,” mentioned lead writer Jennifer Merten. 

“It was due to this fact vital for us to make use of the widest doable vary of information from completely different disciplines and likewise to incorporate observations from the native inhabitants.”

The examine highlights the influence of increasing oil palm and rubber plantations on native water cycles. 

“The big-scale land-use change results in a compaction of the soil, in order that much less rain is absorbed by the soil and the water shortly runs off on the floor,” defined examine co-author Christian Stiegler. “Particularly, the advancing destruction of floodplains performs an vital function on this course of.” 

From the attitude of village residents, the development of flood dams and drainage channels contributes to a change in native patterns of flooding. Such infrastructure is usually constructed by bigger plantation house owners when their operations are expanded into wetlands comparable to river floodplains or peatlands.

“Nonetheless, such dams usually result in elevated flooding on neighboring smallholder plantations,” mentioned Merten, drawing from her observations within the space. This improve in flooding additionally results in new social tensions and conflicts.

Soil safety and improved land use planning can play an vital function in decreasing the influence of land use change on the water cycle, particularly in floodplains and wetlands.

“But, it’s simply as vital to control and management panorama interventions for flood safety and drainage extra carefully,” says Merten. “In any other case it’d occur that the results of accelerating flooding will have an effect on above all of the poorest in society, as a result of bigger corporations merely move on the water.”

The examine is printed within the journal Ecology and Society.

By Chrissy Sexton, Earth.com Employees Author

 

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