THE question of the action of forests on rainfall has been debated by foresters, agriculturists, engineers, and others for a long period, the discussion probably dating back to the time at which scientific forest conservancy was first introduced. In the tropical and sub-tropical parts of the world this is not, however, the point of primary importance. The vital factor for the community at large is the determination of how far the destruction of forests in catchment areas and on the sides of hills and mountains in the drier parts of a country affects, in the first place, the level of the water in the big rivers, a matter of extreme importance when the rivers are utilised for irrigation or power works; secondly, the decrease in the local water supplies and in local precipitations upon which the cultivator is dependent; and, thirdly, erosion and avalanches, and the destruction they cause in the fertile valleys beneath. Sudden floods may also cause enormous damage to railways, towns, and so forth. In India, which was the first part of the British Empire to give consideration to this aspect of the forest question, the matter has been the subject of discussion and reports through the whole of the past century, a statement which will perhaps come as a surprise to many in Great Britain.
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Forest Destruction and its Effects. Nature 119, 37–39 (1927). https://doi.org/10.1038/119037a0