Healthy forests matter more than you know.
That’s the message from this year’s United Nations-sponsored International Day of Forests – March 21 – as it explores this year’s theme: Water. Specifically, the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the U.N. wants to draw attention to how forests are key to the planet’s supply of freshwater.
Sustainable logging and water security
Sustainable logging practices in Canada and the U.S. ensure that our forested watersheds and wetlands continue to function as suppliers and as filters for our fresh water. But elsewhere in the world, illegal, unethical and unsustainable logging is leading to deforestation, which is threatening water security for many large populations.
The FAO released a report on forests and water in 2013 with key recommendations that seek to bring greater awareness of the relationship between the world’s forests and our fresh water. You can help by learning more about this connection.
Here are 7 key facts about the vital role forests play in freshwater management.
- Forested watersheds and wetlands supply 75% of the world’s accessible fresh water for domestic, agricultural, industrial and ecological needs.
- About 1/3 of the world’s largest cities obtain much of their drinking water directly from forested protected areas including major cities such as Mumbai, Bogotá and New York.
- Nearly 80% of the world’s population – 8 out of 10 people – is exposed to high levels of threat to water security.
- Forests act as natural water filters. They reduce sediment in wetlands, ponds, lakes, streams, rivers, while forest litter works to trap water pollutants.
- Climate change is altering forests’ role in regulating water flows and influencing the availability of water resources.
- Improved water resource management can show considerable economic gains. For example, on estimate found that every US$1 invested in watershed protection can save anywhere from US$7.5 to almost US$200 in costs of a new water treatment and filtration facility.
- Sustainably managed forests contribute significantly to reducing soil erosion and the related natural disasters that can disrupt the source and supply of freshwater.
We hope you’ll share the FAO’s video on important connection between forests and freshwater and continue to enjoy all the benefits that well-managed forests provide.