Bengkulu. Authorities in Bengkulu have highlighted the importance of reforesting denuded river catchment areas in an ongoing effort to prevent flooding during the rainy season.
Sumarsono, the head of the provincial river catchment management agency (BPDAS), said on Saturday that over the past three years his office had planted saplings across 5,000 hectares of affected areas in the Sumatran province.
“We’re doing this to mitigate the impact of the flooding that occurs during the rainy season,” he said.
“We’ll continue to keep regreening critically deforested land in river catchment areas throughout Bengkulu so that we can restore the water-absorbing function of these areas.”
Sumarsono said that when a catchment area lost most of its vegetation, it also lost its ability to absorb high volumes of rainwater runoff. This, he went on, meant that excess amounts of rainfall not absorbed into the ground would keep flowing downhill as floodwater.
He added that planting more trees would also have a beneficial impact beyond the rainy season, with the extra vegetation helping the soil to retain more moisture during the dry season.
He said the BPDAS was working with the provincial military command to reforest critical areas throughout Bengkulu.
In Jambi, meanwhile, the Jawa Pos National Network reported that thousands of hectares of food crop were under threat from ongoing torrential rains that have already caused widespread flooding across the province.
Amrin Aziz, the head of the provincial agriculture office, said on Saturday that much of the farmland under threat lay within the catchment area of the Batanghari River.
“Given the sustained high intensity of the rainfall, thousands of hectares of farmland are at threat,” he said.
He added that many farmers, faced with the prospect of losing their entire harvests, were being forced to harvest their crops early to minimize their losses.
Most of the city of Jambi was paralyzed over the weekend by floodwaters reaching up to two meters in some areas after the Batanghari burst its banks, forcing residents to resort to using rafts and canoes to get around.