Deforestation can impact the supply of clean drinking water to communities, a new study has found.
According to the study conducted in Malawi, a 14% reduction in the forest in the country between 2000 and 2010 resulted in the decline of water as would be resulted by a 9% reduction in rainfall.
Published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, the paper was the first that “directly examines the access to clean drinking water and deforestation,” according to the researchers.
The study sourced the deforestation data from the Ministry of Natural Resources, Energy and Mining. They then compared this with the date for household water supplies, controlling for several other factors that can have an impact.
The researchers said that with climate change, and the resulting rainfall extremes, forests are important buffers.
Around 17 per cent of the population in Malawi was getting water from unsafe sources in 2010.