Key messages

  • By 2025, 1.8 billion people could be living in regions with absolute water scarcity, with the possibility of two-thirds of the world’s population experiencing water-stress conditions.
  • The availability and quality of water in many regions of the world is increasingly threatened by overuse, misuse, pollution and projected negative impacts of climate change.
  • Forests play a crucial role in the hydrological cycle, they influence the amount of water available and regulate surface and groundwater flows while maintaining high water quality.
  • Forests and trees contribute to the reduction of water-related risks such as landslides, local floods and droughts and help prevent desertification and salinization.
  • Forests protect watersheds which supply a high proportion of the world’s accessible fresh water for domestic, agricultural, industrial and ecological needs in both upstream and downstream areas.
  • One-third (33 of 105) of the world’s biggest cities, including New York, Mumbai and Bogotá, obtain a significant portion of their drinking water directly from forested watersheds.
  • Deforestation triggers soil erosion and sedimentation in streams resulting in reduced access to clean water and could affect rainfall patterns globally.



Mapping the vulnerability of mountain peoples to food insecurity 11 December 2015 For millions of people living in mountainous areas, hunger and the threat of hunger are nothing new. Harsh climates and the difficult, often inaccessible terrain, combined with political and social marginality make mountain peoples vulnerable to food shortages. One in three mountain people in developing countries is facing hunger and malnutrition. This study presents an updated geographic and demographic picture of the world’s mountain areas and assesses the vulnerability to food insecurity of mountain dwellers in developing countries, based on a specially designed model. The final section presents an alternative and complementary approach to assessing hunger by analyzing household surveys. The results show that the living conditions of mountain dwellers have continued to deteriorate in the last decade. Global progress and living standard improvements do not appear to have made their way up the mountains and many mountain communities lag way behind the full eradication of poverty and hunger. This publication gives voice to the plight of mountain people and sends a message to policy-makers on the importance of including mountain development in their agendas as well as specific measures and investments that could break the cycle of poverty and hunger of mountain communities and slows outmigration from mountain areas. [more]
Forests and Water - International Momentum and Action 21 March 2013 Forests play a crucial role in the hydrological cycle. Forests influence the amount of water available and regulate surface and groundwater flows while maintaining high water quality. Forests and trees contribute to the reduction of water-related risks such as landslides, local floods and droughts and help prevent desertification and salinization. A key challenge faced by land, forest and water managers is to maximize the wide range of forest benefits without detriment to water resources and ecosystem function. As part of the follow-up to the Shiga Declaration and to the Warsaw Resolution 2, many events on forests and water were organized by FAO and other institutions between 2008 and 2011. Presenting experiences ranging from research to project implementation worldwide, these events provided new, up-to-date insight into the topic as well as important recommendations for the way forward. FAO took the initiative of synthesizing the main outcomes and recommendations resulting from this process to develop a comprehensive and practical internationalforests and water agenda to address future course of action. [more]
Why invest in sustainable mountain development? 20 December 2011 This booklet summarizes state-of-the-art information on the characteristics of and threats to mountain ecosystems, the environmental services they provide and the impacts of climate change. It explains approaches to sustainable mountain development, including natural resource management, economic opportunities, and mountain policies and governance. It describes the way forward and provides recommendations for addressing sustainable mountain development at the global and local levels. [more]
FAO Forestry Paper on Forests and Water 1 January 2008 This thematic study on forests and water was developed in the context of the Global Forest Resources Assessment programme. It is directed to a broad range of technical experts, scientists and decision-makers, particularly national authorities, and presents recommendations on giving more attention to the role of forests and trees in water protection and management at the national level. It also calls for stronger collaboration between the water and forest communities. [more]
Unasylva Issue on Forests and Water 1 April 2007 Foresters and water management specialists are cooperating more closely than ever before, but their exchange of expertise could be developed further. Informed decisions about integrated forest and water management depend on applied research and its dissemination to policy-makers. With this issue of Unasylva we hope to enhance the flow of information, knowledge – and safe water. [more]

Field projects

The AECID-funded “Inter Regional Project for Poverty Alleviation and Combating Desertification through collaborative Watershed Management” is active in Ecuador, Mauritania and Morocco. It aims to increase the capacity of key stakeholders to design and implement collaborative and integrated watershed management programs in arid and semi-arid lands with a view to fight poverty, improve food security, combat desertification and promote environmental good governance. 

The GEF-funded project “Integrated Natural Resources Management of the Fouta Djallon Highlands” involves 8 countries in West Africa: Gambia, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Mali, Mauritania, Niger, Senegal and Sierra Leone. The Fouta Djallon Highlands are considered the water tower of the entire sub-region, therefore the projects aims to reverse the root causes of environmental degradation impacting on hydrology, by ensuring the sustainable management of natural resources and by diversifying rural livelihoods and income-generating activities.

In Ecuador, the GEF-funded project “Management of Chimborazo`s Natural Resources” is supporting the conservation and sustainable management of Chimborazo’s páramos, by promoting improved natural resources management practices, strengthening relevant legal and policy frameworks, and building local capacity in the sustainable use of natural resources.


last updated:  Friday, September 19, 2014