Fact Sheets

Forest Management and the Water Cycle

More than 15% of the world’s forest acreage is found in the United States and Canada. Trillions of gallons of water originate in forested acres that are used by society and the forest products sector. From an environmental services viewpoint, forests act as reservoirs that store and release water through their influence on and interaction with hydrological processes. As stewards of drinking water source areas, it is important for forest owners and managers to understand how forest management affects water quantity and timing of delivery, particularly in the context of climate change.

This fact sheet examines the complex relationship between forest management, climate, and water. Coupled with sustainable forest management practices that include using regulated forest practices or forestry best management practices (BMPs), forests help provide a stable, predictable, and high-quality water supply.

Keywords: forest management, water quantity, water quality, ecosystem services