The Dangers of Deforestation

Written by Plant With Purpose on August 18, 2010 in General

by Aly Lewis

Spiders.  Tall places that I could be prone to fall/jump off of.  The dark.

Like most phobias, my greatest fears aren’t entirely well-founded —unless you count the brown recluse spider bite that almost disabled me from attending senior prom. I’ve never fallen from a height higher than a gymnastics balance beam. I’ve yet to plummet to my death from a Ferris wheel. And nothing terrible has ever happened to me in the dark, except maybe that I am unable to see—and therefore fend off—my eight-legged enemies.  

My list of phobias has never included anything too catastrophic. As I read the news about the recent mudslides in China, I’m struck by the very real danger—and tragedy—of this catastrophic event. A couple weeks ago, torrential rains triggered a massive mud avalanche that tore through buildings and hillsides in Gansu, China, leaving thousands dead and missing, buried in mud and water.  

Many scientists and environmentalists say the “natural” disaster was intensified by unnatural conditions, namely deforestation as a result of rapid development in the area. Without trees to anchor the soil in place, the soil easily washed away with the  heavy rains, causing a massive mudslide. The horrific mudslide is an extreme and tragic illustration of the consequences of deforestation.

At Plant With Purpose we are saddened by this tragedy and we mourn the loss of lives, homes, and livelihoods in Gansu, China. Although we don’t work in China, Plant With Purpose works with rural farmers in six different countries to replenish deforested lands, empowering them to overcome poverty while protecting against deadly flooding and mudslides. For example, this year in Haiti we’ve worked with rural communities to construct over 300 miles of soil erosion barriers and plant over 250,000 trees. This will provide a vital barrier against potentially deadly hurricane storms that often batter the island in the summer and fall. In recent years we’ve seen the value of this work when farmers who’ve utilized these techniques experienced less damage to their farms when tropical storms hit.

As we partner with communities to reforest their land and transform their lives, we hope that flooding and mudslides will become nothing more than an irrational phobia for the communities where we work.

To read more about the mudslide in China click here.

To learn more about the effects of deforestation click here.

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