Unit 5 - Forest Protection

Lesson 8: Water Management

We know that trees need water to survive; they pull water up from the ground to be used for photosynthesis, cooling and evaporation.

However, when we think about forests and how to protect them, water may not be the first thing that comes to mind. Clean water is one of the most valuable forest products, something we should always remember. The cleanest, purest water is water that flows from forested areas and sustainable forest management plays a role in that.


Streams and rivers that flow through forests not only provide us with a dependable, clean source of water, the trees along the water:

  • shade and cool the waterway, which in turn improves habitat conditions for in-stream fish, salamanders and frogs,
  • allow cold-water fish to spawn adjacent to stream banks, and
  • provide relief from extreme heat for wildlife.

In addition, the forest:

  • captures precipitation, which helps to reduce the potential for erosion.
  • slows down flood waters.
  • reduces the volume of water through root absorption.
  • improves water quality by filtering excess runoff.
  • allows water to enter the ground and recharge the water table.

Full or partial removal of a forest, either by natural disturbances or by over-harvesting, can greatly affect the quality and quantity of forest water. Any forest protection plan must include a strategy for ensuring that the water bodies within a forest remain intact.