A Guide to Forest-Water Management (hereinafter referred to as “the Guide”), was jointly published by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), the International Union of Forest Research Organizations (IUFRO) and Department of Agriculture of the United States Forest Service (USDA), and was launched on 26 August at the World Water Week (WWW). Experts from IUFRO’s Task Force for Forests and Water participated in the preparation and review of the Guide.
The Guide is the first comprehensive global publication on the monitoring, management and valuation of forest–water interactions. It was developed to stimulate discussions on strategic forest management and governance for water and to provide general guidance on forest–water monitoring, management and valuation at multiple scales. The Guide discusses new technologies and methods around four aspects, including “monitoring and reporting on the forest-water nexus”, “managing forests for water”, “valuing water from forests” and “key ecosystems for forest-water management”, analyzes the impact of different operation and management methods on forest-water resources, and provides ecosystem case study closely related to water resources and forest such as mangrove, peat land, dry land and tropical mountain cloud forest.
Forested watersheds provide 75% of our accessible freshwater supply and are therefore integral to our water security. Forest destruction or watershed degradation will increase the risk of soil erosion, forest fires and water shortages. Yet only 12% of the world’s forests are managed with water as a primary objective. FAO forestry minister Mette Wilkie and IUFRO vice president Liu Shirong pointed out in the Foreword of the Guide that ensuring the functionality of landscapes and the delivery of ecosystem services requires effective management and monitoring that focuses on water. Despite uncertainty around integrated forest–water management, it is imperative that water receives much more attention in forest management as the world faces the consequences of climate change and other pressures. In order to effectively protect water resources, while utilizing the existing forest management technical measures, the type of ecosystem, ecosystem location in the landscapes, specific management objectives and management scales need to be taken into consideration as well. They hope and expect that the Guide will encourage stakeholders to prioritize water in forest management and governance. (Li Xuejiao / Department of International Cooperation )