Tropical forests act like sponges that trap water during storms, making them critical to protecting surrounding areas from excessive runoff and flooding, say scientists from the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute, Phys.org reported. By looking at changes in land use in Panama, the researchers found that tropical forests are much more efficient at trapping storm water and releasing it later during dry periods than grasslands cleared for grazing.
China is working to protect forests and wetlands on the Tibetan Plateau with plans to rehabilitate 395,000 square kilometers of vegetation and improve ecological monitoring, Xinhua reported. The plan aims to protect the source of “important rivers”.
Florida’s Indian River Lagoon, a vast estuary that supports an array of marine life, is under threat from algal blooms driven by upstream releases of nutrient-rich water. In an interactive report, the Daytona Beach News Journal explores the reasons behind the blooms and the hundreds of manatee and dolphin deaths this year.
WASH and Humanitarian Aid
Syrian refugees living in tent camps in neighboring Lebanon and Jordan are preparing for the winter cold, but are threatened by snow and flooding, Oxfam said in a news report. Approximately 2.2 million refugees have escaped the conflict in Syria, a number the United Nations predicts could reach 4 million by the end of 2014.
An audio report by the Inter Press Service details the crumbling water infrastructure in Zimbabwe, which led to a cholera outbreak that killed more than 4,000 people five years ago. New boreholes have helped some residents regain access to clean water, but sewage overflows and a lack of running water are still serious problems in urban areas.