Landslides are very powerful and destructive forces that can decimate ecosystems, wipe out man made infrastructure, and take even take human life. Studies at the United States Geological Survey have conducted show that an average of 25 to 50 people die each year from landslides and over 2 billion dollars of economic damage occurs annually within the U.S.
Above image source: http://landslides.usgs.gov/html_files/landslides/slides/landslideimages.htm
The damage that landslides cause on the environment is equally devastating to the damages caused to man made structures. Loss of habitat is caused by landslides which upsets the ecosystem. Animal and insect species are forced to compete for space. Also when landslides occur the flow of soil and debris can eventually leak into surrounding water supplies such as rivers and streams which can then threaten the habitat of aquatic species. For example, many areas of California, Oregon, and Washington are seeing a rapid decline in native salmon species as a result of landslides destroying or contaminating spawning beds. Furthermore, when area of old growth timber is clear cut it allows for non-native species which can damage the existing ecosystem that local plants and animals depend on. Old growth trees act as keystone species, which are the most fundamental species in an ecosystem. To remove them can completely eradicate the existing ecosystem.
What are landslides and how do they occur?
Clear cutting and Its Effects on Landslides
Future Environmental Hazards
Conclusions and Solutions