Forests play a key role in the protection of the world's water resources and in the global water cycle.
In maintaining high water quality, forests make their most significant contribution to the supply of water.
Through stabilisation of soil, forests minimise erosion and hence reduce the impairment of water quality due to sedimentation. Forest and forest plant roots prevent run-off from heavy rains and with it soil erosion. Woodlands protect water bodies and watercourses by trapping sediments and pollutants from other up-slope land use and activities
Forests also play a role in water availability. Forests absorb water as direct rainfall from the atmosphere and through their roots from the ground. Through a process of evapo-transpiration, water is re-released to the atmosphere and the global water cycle. At the same time, forests may influence the timing of water delivery by maintaining and improving soil infiltration and the soil's water-storage capacity.
Tropical rainforests play a particularly important role in providing water for the plants and animals that shelter under their thick canopies allowing them to survive and protecting their biodiversity.
Without forests, there would be increased run-off of rain water and with it topsoil erosion. Similarly, without evapo-transpiration from tree foliage, a key part of the global water cycle would be interrupted resulting in increased drought and desertification.
PEFC Certification & Water
PEFC requires forest management to aim to maintain or enhance the protective functions of forests for society. This includes the protection of water resources and from adverse impacts of water such as floods or avalanches, and the protection from soil erosion.
We require that special care be given to forest management practices on forest areas with water protection functions to avoid adverse effects on the quality and quantity of water resources.
This includes e.g. the avoidance of inappropriate use of chemicals or other harmful substances influencing water quality in a harmful way. Also, infrastructure needs to be constructed in such a manner that preserves the natural level and function of water courses and river beds, and avoids the introduction of soil into watercourses.