Thursday, July 17, 2008

Unlocking the water held by US forests not so easy

Environment News Service: Can forests, which process nearly two-thirds of the nation’s water supply, be managed to help slake our growing demand for water and avert the worst consequences of climate change? A new report from the National Research Council suggests a need for caution in trying to tap greater water output from forests, and recommends more research and citizen involvement to help protect water quality and quantity as forests come under increased pressure from many directions.

The National Research Council report, written by a panel of 14 experts, was requested by the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation, the nation’s largest water wholesaler, and the U.S. Forest Service, which manages 193 million acres of land. "Meeting water supply needs is becoming more difficult because elevated water demand is occurring simultaneously with changes in climate, human population and development, land use and ownership," says the report. "How to manage forests and sustain water supplies will be a primary challenge in the 21st century."

…The report, "Hydrologic Effects of a Changing Forest Landscape," explores how better management of forest resources could increase water supplies and quality and identifies future research needs….

Cullasaja Falls in the Nantahala National Forest in the winter. Photo by Bill Duyck, US Forest Service, Wikimedia Commons

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