World Water Week: Trees Play a Significant Role

Mountain StreamTo celebrate World Water Week, organized by the Stockholm Water Institute, let’s talk trees and H₂0!

Trees and clean water go hand in hand. Trees—large rainforests and deciduous forests in particular—can play a significant role in the preservation, purification, and even production of this precious resource.

Forests help to:

-Filter and purify water

Forests provide natural filtration and storage systems that supply an estimated 75 percent of usable water globally… (nearly 2/3 of the water supply in the U.S.) One study estimates the value of water regulation and supply at $2.3 trillion globally.CIFOR

“Trees and forests improve stream quality and watershed health by decreasing the amount of storm water runoff and pollutants that reach local waters. They take up nutrients and pollutants from soils and water through their roots, and transform them into less harmful substances. Forests also maintain high water quality by minimizing soil erosion and reducing sediment.” -CIFOR

In the city of Victoria in the province of British Columbia, their forested watershed is so effective at purifying their drinking water, the only treatment they do is filtering for course debris and passing the water under a UV light. No chemicals are added to purify the water.” -CIFOR

-Manage stormwater and reduce severity of drought

“(Trees) allow rain water to percolate into the soil rather than rushing off carrying with it oil, metal particles and other pollutants. Below ground, roots hold the soil in place and absorb water that will eventually be released into the atmosphere by transpiration.” –Tree City USA Bulletin #55: How Trees Can Retain Stormwater Runoff

Forests act as giant sponges, soaking up rainfall during wet seasons and slowly releasing it during times of drought.” -CIFOR

“(Forests) could also help us to adapt to a changing climate and combat drought by influencing rainfall patterns…Tropical forests contribute to regulating river flows both during dry seasons and high rainfall events, thereby minimizing risks related to water scarcity and floods.” -CIFOR

-Maintain rainfall levels throughout the world

Air passing over vegetation produces about twice as much rain as that blowing across sparsely covered ground…In some cases these forests increased rainfall thousands of kilometers away.” –Leeds University study

A vast forest such as the Amazon is able to pump significant amounts of water into the atmosphere, promoting cloud formation and movement, even thousands of kilometers away…impacting rainfall patterns in other parts of the world.” -CIFOR

‘By better understanding this process, we may, one day, be able to strategically plant trees that will bring rain to regions that need it most,’ David Ellison from the Institute for World Economics said.” –CIFOR

Your Part

What can you do today?

Taking care of our earth’s major tree resources will play an ever-increasing role in the worldwide effort to maintain our water supply.

Every little bit helps—pure, clean water can start with you.

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