Forest and Water Programme

Food security is dependent on water security. And water security is dependent on forests. Approximately 75 percent of the world’s accessible freshwater for agricultural, domestic, industrial and environmental uses comes from forests, with 90 percent of the world's cities relying on forested watersheds for their water supply. Forests and trees are essential to maintaining resilient production systems, communities and ecosystems. They are vital to our water supply, providing high quality water resources: they intercept atmospheric moisture, contribute to cloud and rain formation, reduce erosion and recharge groundwater. However, changes in climate and land-use are contributing to altered groundwater and base flows locally, and precipitation regionally. Global hydrosheds - major watersheds - have experienced 40 percent tree cover loss, resulting in increased risk to water stress, erosion and forest fires.

With approximately 80% of the world population facing water insecurity, the management of forests for water is increasingly important. Using forests to produce high quality water can cost as low as $2 per person per year. Yet, 75 percent of the world's forests are not managed for water conservation. The relationship between forest and water resources needs to be addressed through integrated management and policies, supported by scientific understanding.

Advancing the Forest and Water Nexus - A capacity development facilitation guide

The Forest and Water Programme has developed this module-based facilitation guide to provide appropriate background information, resource materials and a proposed facilitation plan to support the delivery of participatory learning workshops, or capacity development programmes on the forest-water nexus.

There are 6 modules in total, covering the basic theory of the forest-water nexus and its role in the greater landscape, as well as modules that describe how to measure/monitor forest-water relationships and take them into consideration in management. Recommended additional resources for each module are available on the Capacity development tab.


The Forest and Water Programme

The Forest and Water Programme acknowledges the importance of forests in the broader landscape and aims to mainstream considerations for water-related ecosystem services in sustainable forest management.

The programme takes a holistic approach, integrating forest and water science, policy and practice. It advocates for recognition of forest–water interactions and the role of trees and forests in maintaining resilient landscapes and providing high-quality water resources, in different climatic zones and forest ecosystems and at different landscape scales.

Unasylva 251 - Forests: nature-based solutions for water

Water – drinkable, usable water – is likely to be one of the most limiting resources in the future, given the growing global population, the high water demand of most agricultural production systems, and the confounding effects of climate change. We need to manage water wisely – efficiently, cost-effectively and equitably – if we are to avoid the calamity of a lack of usable water supply.

Forested watersheds provide an estimated 75 percent of the world’s accessible freshwater resources, on which more than half the Earth’s people depend for domestic, agricultural, industrial and environmental purposes. Forests therefore, are vital natural infrastructure, and their management can provide “nature-based solutions” for a range of water-related societal challenges. This edition of Unasylva explores that potential.

In Depth

Life and Nature (Cambodia)
Monitoring Framework Workshop
Fouta Djallon Highlands (West Africa)