Forest and Water Programme

22 May: Celebrating the SOFO 2020 launch on the International Day for Biological Diversity

Forests are among the most important biodiversity repositories and home to about 80% of the world’s terrestrial biodiversity. Riparian forests maintain and support aquatic biodiversity by providing shade, protecting the soil from erosion, acting as a chemical buffer, and providing nutritious terrestrial inputs to aquatic food webs. These inputs from forests, such as woody debris and leaf litter, can also support complex and varied microhabitats, creating conditions for nursing grounds and refuges environments and therefore, enhancing the diversity of freshwater communities. These benefits result in food supply and security, especially for populations that rely on fisheries. 

The State of the World’s Forests: Forests, Biodiversity and People (SOFO 2020)

SOFO 2020 provides interesting case studies on forests being managed and restored to support freshwater biodiversity. The publication presents examples of large-scale plans in North America that, through forest management, have successfully supported aquatic biodiversity conservation, resulting in socio-economic and cultural benefits (See Case Study 5). The understanding of forest and water interactions, and its benefits, can enhance forest sustainable management practices and benefits from forests, maintaining life and biodiversity. 

The decisions to improve these practices and ensure ecosystem services provision need to be taken based on the ecosystem health, which can be measured by the biodiversity. Freshwater biodiversity is used as bioindicator of the habitat assessment, as biological indicators are sensitive to environmental changes, being able to provide a good sample of forests health and their management over time. Habitat assessment tools related to the forest-water nexus, as well as their importance, are discussed on SOFO 2020 publication. 

SOFO 2020 reports recent major policy and institutional development, assess progress made in meeting global targets and goals, and highlights solutions that are critical in balancing conservation and sustainable use of forest biodiversity. The publication also provides many concrete examples of recent successful initiatives to manage, conserve and restore forest biodiversity aligned with its sustainable use.