Deforestation Is Making Wetlands Wetter Across The World

Little Llangothlin Lagoon, Northern Tablelands in the New England region of NSW. Clearance of the forest around this wetland after 1840 by European settlers changed it from a wetland to a semi-permanent lake. Image: Craig Woodward

When trees are removed from wetlands, such as swamps and marshes, these environments become significantly wetter, according to Australian scientists.

The researchers say the effect is observed in 9% to 12% of wetlands and could make the reforestation of wetlands problematic, with possible unknown side effects of altering water balances.

But this phenomenon goes largely unrecognised because most studies of human impact on the environment are not designed to look for it.

Craig Woodward of the University of Queensland and colleagues show that the main effect of deforestation on wetland environments is an increase in available water equivalent to an increase in annual rainfall of up to 15% in some cases.

The research is published in the journal Science.

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