Forest, trees and water on a changing planet: How contemporary science can inform policy and practice
Trees and people both need water. With a growing global population and continued forest loss and degradation – a key question becomes: are trees and people competitors or friends? The relationship between forests, trees and water is an issue of considerable complexity and uncertainty, but of high priority for both people and the environment. In the face of such challenges, the next generation of policymakers and decision-makers will have to consider climate-forest- water-people interactions in a more holistic way. Water may be the key to unlocking policies that flow from a local understanding to actions at global scales. In the forestry community, it is still largely assumed that only forest authorities are in a position to provide the water required by society. Yet, the combined effects of climate change and climatic variability, modification of forests and increasing demand for water suggest that more explicit attention should be directed at managing trade-offs between forests, water and people. Managing these trade-offs is particularly important in multifunctional landscapes that include forests and trees.