Canadian Forest Service Publications
Reforestation - climate change and water resource implications. 2014. Egginton, P.; Beall,F.; Buttle, J. The Forestry Chronicle 90:516-524.
Issued by: Great Lakes Forestry Centre
Catalog ID: 35779
Availability: PDF (request by e-mail)
In a forested catchment, river discharge in any season can be either decreased or augmented by forest management practices such as appropriate species selection, density management, and length of rotation. The efficacy of any such strategy in either new plantations or existing forests can be maximized by considering the distribution of the key hydrological functions in the catchment. With the growing awareness of climate change and its impacts, the adequacy of our water supply is becoming an issue of increasing societal importance. At the same time there is greater discussion about using our forests for carbon sequestration and biofuels. Policy-makers should be careful when introducing new programs that incentivize widespread reforestation. The implications of such planting programs on annual and seasonal river flows (under both current and future climatic conditions) need to be considered. Informed choices need to be made as to the objectives for which we manage our forests. In turn, this means that there is an urgent need for water managers and forest managers to work more closely together than in the past to optimally plan and develop forest and water management strategies.
Plain Language Summary
We discuss the importance of water management issues in forest management planning. With the growing awareness of climate change and its impacts, the adequacy of our current and future water supply is becoming an issue of increasing societal importance. Increasing forest cover is well known to reduce water flows and new land use practises, such as tree planting for carbon sequestration and biofuels, will change the structure and management of our forests with potential impacts on water resources. Increased demand for water due to both resource development and climate change could lead to more pronounced seasonal mismatches between supply and demand. The impacts of forest management strategies in new plantations and in existing forests on water resources can be minimized by taking into account the distribution of key hydrological functions. In a forested catchment, management choices such as species selection and retention can influence river discharge in any season. There is a need for better coordination between water managers and forest managers.