Trees are bad

Published: Thursday 15 September 2005

Trees and groundwater UK

At least, this is what the media in the uk seems to believe. This is the revelation of a new report by uk's Forestry Research Program (frp), " From the Mountain to the Tap: how land use and water management Can Work for the Rural Poor". The Reuters reports it as 'myth' that forests improve water flows while New Scientist says "planting trees may create deserts". Telegraph reported that "millions are wasted on planting trees that reduce water". The frp report takes a cue from such reportage and notes, "misguided views on water management have encouraged major investments in water resource projects that are ineffective or counterproductive".

"We are not saying that trees are bad per se," says Ashwin Gosain, scientist at Indian Institute of Technology, New Delhi, who also contributed to the report. Tree plantation should be based on scientific evidences of benefits and after proper impact assessment studies he adds. Conclusions in the report are based on research carried out in India, Costa Rica, South Africa, Germany, Colombia, Grenada, Sweden, Switzerland, Tanzania, the Netherlands, the uk, and the us . Examples are cited from India and South Africa where excessive plantation has reduced surface run-off and lowered groundwater table. But the report also adds that this is basically due to commercial plantations of non-native tree species.

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