Friday, April 07, 2017

Over half of Kinabatangan River’s floodplain removed by deforestation

KINABATANGAN: Deforestation is believed to have removed over half of the Kinabatangan River’s floodplain forest and up to 30 per cent of its riparian cover, according to a new scientific paper published in Geology on research carried out at Sabah Wildlife Department’s and Cardiff University’s Danau Girang Field Centre.

The paper is a collaboration between Sustainable Places Research Institute, Cardiff School of Earth and Ocean Sciences, Cardiff School of Biosciences and Danau Girang Field Centre, and examines the modification of river meandering by tropical deforestation.

Alex Horton, PhD student at Cardiff School of Earth and Ocean Sciences and leader of the study said deforestation had increased the rate of Kinabatangan River bank erosion by over 23 per cent within their study areas.

“These results highlight the vital role of forests in the evolution of meandering rivers and their riverbank stability,” he said.

“We documented rates of deforestation and corresponding average annual rates of riverbank erosion along the Kinabatangan River in Sabah,” he added.

“Our research investigated the implications of such extensive forest clearing on the dynamics of tropical river systems, particularly how rapidly floodplains erode after deforestation.”

Tropical forests are the only forest biome to have experienced increased rates of forest loss during the past decade because of global demands for food and biofuels.

“The Kinabatangan River offers an important opportunity to document and assess the relationship between tropical floodplain forest and riverbank erosion,” said Dr Benoit Goossens, Director of Danau Girang Field Centre and a lecturer at Cardiff School of Biosciences.