FAO launches new tool for forest and water connections
28 January 2021, Rome - FAO today launched a new online tool that will help people better monitor, measure, and manage the relationship between forests and water.
The Forest and Landscape Water Ecosystem Services (FL-WES) Tool is available to everyone, from local governments implementing regional projects to individuals interested in improving their management practices within their land.
“Our water supply depends on healthy forests, yet currently we manage only 12 percent of the world’s forests with water conservation as a priority,” said FAO Forestry Officer Elaine Springgay.
“This new tool makes it easier for users to understand and analyze forest and water interactions and quickly access the relevant resources to manage their forests and prioritize water conservation.”
Users can input different parameters, including whether their project is local, regional, or national, what kind of financial resources are available, and what kind of expertise they can access.
The tool then tailors advice on, for example, understanding buffer zones on river banks, monitoring water levels and measuring water quality. If the project has low funding resources, the tool can recommend ways to assess forest and water quantity visually. For larger and better-funded projects, the tool can suggest how to use state of the art technology to monitor water pollution or the impacts of erosion.
The tool is also integrated with other FAO systems, such as EarthMap, which allows users to access multidimensional maps and statistics showing key climate and environmental trends. It also complements the Forest-Water Capacity Development Facilitation Guide, which introduces people to forest-water concepts and a framework by which to monitor their forest and water resources.
Forests are intrinsically linked to water, and both forest and water resources are relevant to the achievement of all 17 Sustainable Development Goals.
Three-quarters of our freshwater comes from forested watersheds, while 90 percent of cities rely on forests for their water. Forests take moisture from the atmosphere and contribute to the formation of clouds and rain. They also prevent erosion and replenish groundwater.
“Forests are essential to ensuring we have enough clean water to survive and thrive, and it is important that the forest-water nexus is not neglected in policy and planning,” said Springgay.