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There is a tendency to blame all natural disasters on human abuse of the natural environment. This is no more evident than in the case of devastating floods and landslides that affect the personal and economic fortunes of millions of people every year. Each disaster is followed by a predictable response. Upland farmers and loggers are blamed for clearing and degrading forests. In many people’s minds the use and abuse of forests in upland watersheds represents the main cause of massive lowland floods.

Forests and floods: drowning in fiction or thriving on facts? explores the scientific evidence linking floods and forests. The booklet reveals that much of what is ingrained in people’s minds cannot be substantiated by science and is often little more than myth or is patently incorrect. Such conventional wisdom has often led decision-makers to implement misguided policies that adversely affect the livelihoods of millions of people living in upland areas.

Forests and floods distinguishes fact from fiction and recommends alternative approaches for effective watershed and floodplain management. This authoritative overview has been produced by a suite of renowned experts, but it should appeal to everyone with an interest in escaping the quagmire of stale and dated paradigms. Ultimately, Forests and flood aims to better inform policy-makers, development agencies and the media, and so constructively contribute to the development of sound watershed and river-basin management and improved flood-mitigation policies.

Forest Perspectives are published to promote discussion and debate on key forest issues. They are published by CIFOR as a service to encourage dialogue and information exchange among the international forest community. Electronic versions can be downloaded from CIFOR’s web site ( and from FAO’s web site (

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