APR 16, 2018 3:44 PM PDT

What logging does to your water

There are a lot of issues with deforestation. However, for some nations around the world, logging jobs provide stable sources of income that might otherwise be unavailable. But now new research is taking a deeper look into the consequences of logging and asking, at what cost?

The recent study, which was published in Environmental Research Letters, comes from collaborating researchers at The University of Queensland (UQ) and the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS). It focuses on the impacts of logging in the Solomon Islands and its findings suggest that even in “best case scenarios,” when logging practices are as sustainable as possible, downstream water quality is negatively affected as a result of extensive soil erosion.

People in the Solomon Islands depend on freshwater sources for drinking, irrigation of crops, bathing, washing clothes, etc. The authors of the study are concerned that the high logging rate in the Solomon Islands is ultimately degrading the islands’ landscapes and ecosystems. Commercial logging makes up 18% of government revenue in the nation and at least 60% of exports. "When land-clearing extent reached 40% in our models, international standards for safe drinking water were exceeded nearly 40 percent of the time, even if best practices for logging were followed. Loss of the upland forest will compromise local access to clean water essential for drinking, bathing, and household washing," said Dr. Amelia Wenger, UQ School of Earth and Environmental Sciences Postdoctoral Research Fellow.

The significance of these findings may play a crucial role in the process of creating a national park to protect forests on Kolombangara Island. The Kolombangara Island Biodiversity Conservation Association (KIBCA) is a community-based organization that aims to conserve the island's rich marine and terrestrial biodiversity and it has its sights set on giving legal protection to a series of the island’s forests that are both culturally and biologically noteworthy. If KIBCA is able to use the study’s results to prove to residents the importance of their island’s forests, they may be able to put stricter logging regulations in place.

KIBCA coordinator Ferguson Vaghi said: "Previously people in Solomon Islands made decisions about logging from a selfish economic perspective. This study highlights that we also need to consider the impacts to the downstream environment."

Kolombangara Island in the Solomon Islands is rich with biodiversity. Photo: American Museum of Natural History

Of course, to make real changes, the authors stress that national enforcement on logging policies must become a priority. As WCS Melanesia Director Dr. Stacy Jupiter explains: "Saving tropical forests worldwide depends upon tighter regulation of national laws and policies, as well as local buy-in for forest management. This study nicely illustrates why we need to take action now to protect the world's remaining intact forest landscapes in order to preserve their biodiversity and important ecosystem services for people."

So now the question is, will the people and government listen to science’s warnings?

Sources: Environmental Research Letters, Science Daily

About the Author
  • Kathryn is a curious world-traveller interested in the intersection between nature, culture, history, and people. She has worked for environmental education non-profits and is a Spanish/English interpreter.
You May Also Like
AUG 10, 2021
Plants & Animals
World Lion Day - Lions Under Threat
AUG 10, 2021
World Lion Day - Lions Under Threat
Lions are large charismatic predators that we love to adore. But human-lion conflicts are on the rise as we continue to ...
SEP 09, 2021
Earth & The Environment
A Win for Environmental Conservationists: Maine Bans Forever Chemicals
SEP 09, 2021
A Win for Environmental Conservationists: Maine Bans Forever Chemicals
The state of Maine took a massive step in environmental conservation on July 15, 2021, and banned the sale of products c ...
SEP 14, 2021
Earth & The Environment
Record Activist Murders and Illegal Logging
SEP 14, 2021
Record Activist Murders and Illegal Logging
Last year, 2020, was the deadliest year for conservation activists. According to Global Witness, 227 environmental ...
OCT 06, 2021
Chemistry & Physics
2021's Nobel Prize in Physics Recognizes Foundational Work in Climate Science
OCT 06, 2021
2021's Nobel Prize in Physics Recognizes Foundational Work in Climate Science
The 2021 lineup for one of the world’s most prestigious awards has been announced, and the medal for physics has b ...
OCT 12, 2021
Microbiology
Revealing the Efficient Enzymes of Methane-Producing Microbes
OCT 12, 2021
Revealing the Efficient Enzymes of Methane-Producing Microbes
The atmospheric levels of methane, which is known to be a potent greenhouse gas, have been steadily increasing for many ...
OCT 18, 2021
Earth & The Environment
Bugs Tell Scientists How Polluted Waters Are
OCT 18, 2021
Bugs Tell Scientists How Polluted Waters Are
Water quality changes all over the globe as humans change land use and develop communities near water. The increase in t ...
Loading Comments...