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Closing the gaps between science and public perceptions

Robinson, Mark; Calder, Ian. 2008 Closing the gaps between science and public perceptions. [Keynote] In: Water and Forests: A Convenient Truth?, Barcelona, Spain, 30-31 October, 2008. Barcelona, Spain, European Forest Institute.

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Abstract/Summary

Forestry in its different forms is the largest global land cover and covers ~ 30% of the earth’s land surface. It is not surprising that there are many widespread and longstanding public perceptions about the role of forests in controlling water storages and movement across the land. For some people it is self-evident that forests will provide protection against flooding downstream, whilst others may see forest management activities such as access roads and regular felling as a recurring source of problems further downstream. Similarly, claims that forests will enhance baseflows, reduce erosion, and provide pure sources of unpolluted water may be countered by communities downstream which point to the drying of rivers and acidifying watercourses as well as increased stream sediment following forest events such as windthrow or fire damage. Separating myth from the truth can be far from clear-cut, since much may depends upon the nature of the forest, as well as the alternative land use to which it is being compared. This paper reviews the scientific evidence that is often overshadowed by the propaganda of well organised vested interest groups, and examines the validity of claims about six different aspects of forest impacts on the water environment: namely floods, low flows, erosion, water quality, total water flow, and climate feedbacks. It attempts to provide a scientific framework for an examination of the facts. This is not just a matter of public perception vs. science, for often the scientific community itself is split. Nevertheless general conclusions can be reached, within given bounds of local circumstances and scale.

Item Type: Publication - Conference Item (Keynote)
Programmes: CEH Programmes pre-2009 publications > Water > WA01 Water extremes
CEH Sections: Harding (to 31.07.11)
Additional Information. Not used in RCUK Gateway to Research.: Citation: Robinson, M & Calder IR (2008) Closing the gaps between science and public perceptions. Invited Keynote paper at 'Water and Forests: A Convenient Truth?' International Conference Barcelona 30-31th October, 2008. European Forest Institute
NORA Subject Terms: Management
Ecology and Environment
Hydrology
Related URLs:
Date made live: 27 Apr 2009 15:54
URI: http://nora.nerc.ac.uk/id/eprint/5726

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