Tree Wars of the Dominican Republic
By Phillip Lehman
When it’s really really sunny and in the middle of a prolonged period of waves and wind I must say it’s hard to get the community’s and the people’s attention talking about such seemingly unimportant and boring things, things like the potential for devastating floods caused by deforestation, beach erosion and the potential of new flood paths caused by unhindered sand extraction from rivers, unscrupulous development and last but not least charcoal production.
Now that this flooding of biblical proportions has become a national problem I will take advantage of your seemingly weather induced attention span and give you a little briefing on what the direct causes are of the recent catastrophic floods on the North Coast, it’s was very predictable and was only a matter of time.
It’s been raining here on the North Coast, raining a lot in fact but it has not been anything way above normal, it rains like this every few years and there are floods but there have never been floods of such catastrophic proportions as the ones happening now, ever.
The cause of this unprecedented flooding is actually not the rain but deforestation, as you may or may not know a systematic destruction of pristine rain forests is going on in all areas of the North Coast and all over the country, unfortunately we have now finally reached the tipping point, we are now at a level of deforestation that will result in serious flooding each time there is an above average amount of rainfall, it will now take far less rain to saturate the ground and the lack of trees will ensure that almost all of the water runs directly into rivers guaranteeing flash floods and catastrophic damages every year. The authorities would like to have the people think its all because of the rain, but its not, not at all.
“Just like the water rolls off the duck’s back, so to will the water roll off the treeless hills and into the sand less rivers creating floods of ever growing proportions”
We have finally broken the fragile equilibrium between natural drainage (forests) and runoff (no trees no drainage), I say we because we are all responsible, more on that in a minute.
The way a forest prevents flooding is mostly due to the fact that trees have roots, roots that perforate the ground and even crack open limestone and bedrock allowing water to flow into the ground filling the aquifer, this insures that before water runs off the surface a large amount is first captured into the ground and it takes a lot more rain to saturate the ground were there is a forest present.
Without trees water no longer sinks into the ground but rather rolls off the surface, making things even worse on the North Coast there is a lot of clay, clay is impermeable to water and acts like a sealant and will not allow the ground to absorb water, so when it rains all the water flows downhill and into the streams and rivers which then overflow.
This is no longer a “campo” or small town issue, it is now a country wide issue, an everyone issue, rich, poor Dominican or foreign we will all be affected and from now on large cities such as but not limited to; Puerto Plata, Moca and Santiago are in the cross hairs and will be directly affected by catastrophic floods brought on as a direct result of unhindered deforestation.
Sabaneta, Cabarete, Gaspar Hernandez and Luperon (to name just 4) were all badly hit as well, from now on any area in the path of rivers will fall victim to catastrophic flooding, count on it.
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Category: DR Living |