In the News


A national tool for understanding the importance of forests for drinking water gets a major overhaul

Forests play a crucial role in protecting and enhancing the nation's drinking water supply. Since 2011, the US Forest Service's Forest to Faucets program has provided a unique tool for understanding and mapping this forest ecosystem service and threats posed by multiple stressors. Now, State and Private Forestry's Chesapeake Watershed Forestry Program has partnered with the Southern Research Station's Eastern Forest Environmental Threat Assessment Center in a major effort to update this important source of national information. Forest to Faucets 2.0 expands on the original assessment with updated data and considers additional threats to watersheds important to surface drinking water. The website went live to the public in April 2020. The assessment uses Geographic Information Systems (GIS) to help users understand, through intuitive online visual mapping tools, how important small watersheds are for surface drinking water across the country. The vital role forests play in protecting source water is embedded in the data, which measure the extent to which forests are threatened by development, insects and disease, wildland fire, and climate change. Visit the Forest to Faucets site to learn more about the assessment and to access the interactive map viewer.  


Pictured: The Forest to Faucets program estimates importance of watersheds for surface drinking water across more than 83,000 US watersheds. Those shown in darker blue have higher yield and are serving more people on public water systems drawn from surface water.


European Forest Genetic Resources Programme highlights the relevance of Project CAPTURE for conserving vulnerable tree species

Carolina hemlockA key step in conserving forests is to identify tree species that are most vulnerable to current and future threats. Project CAPTURE (Conservation Assessment and Prioritization of Forest Trees Under Risk of Extirpation) is a USDA Forest Service-funded tool for doing just this, and for prioritizing conservation approaches. Kevin Potter, a North Carolina State University researcher and EFETAC collaborating scientist, has coordinated the development of Project CAPTURE and its application in the US.

Now, a European organization has begun to explore the use of Project CAPTURE for prioritizing European tree species for conservation. The European Forest Genetic Resources Programme (EUFORGEN) is an organization of 27 countries that promotes the conservation and sustainable use of forest genetic resources as a part of sustainable forest management across Europe.

EUFORGEN recently published an article describing how Project CAPTURE has been used in the US, and how it could become a useful tool in Europe for conserving the continent's forest genetic resources. Read the article here. Potter and colleagues have also recently published an article detailing the science behind Project CAPTURE, available here.

Pictured: Carolina hemlock (Tsuga caroliniana) tree at Linville Gorge, North Carolina. Carolina hemlock rates as one of the most vulnerable native tree species in the US. Photo by Kevin Potter.


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