Sustainably managing the world’s forests will be key to ensuring safe and sustainable water supplies for all. It is what emerges from a report released at the UN High-level Political Forum on Sustainable Development (HLPF) titled “ Forest and Water on a Changing Planet: Vulnerability, Adaptation and Governance Opportunities”.
Forests serve as our natural water collection, filtration, and delivery systems by collecting rain and snow and delivering it into streams, wet meadows, and aquifers throughout the year. Water flows from forests into rivers that supply our reservoirs, agricultural canals, and water tables. Forests also are key to flood control, absorbing and holding vast amounts of water in major rain events such as those increasingly seen with climate change, releasing it far more slowly, and cleanly, than would happen otherwise.
The report calls for social and environmental justice to be integrated into climate-forest-water policies, as well as for stronger participatory approaches to ensure that policy goals are sustainable and equitable.