Volume 12, Issue 3 - Summer 2018
International Experts Publish Global Assessment of Forests and Water
A newly published report presents the current state of knowledge on the relationships between forests and water across the planet. Center research ecologist and USDA Southeast Climate Hub Director Steven McNulty is among the report’s coauthors who assessed global forests’ capacity for supplying water resources to growing populations. “All nations depend on a reliable source of clean water, and forests provide the resource over much the world. However, increasing human demand and climate change and variability are making water shortages more common for billions of people,” says McNulty. “The objective of this study was to examine how adaptation, mitigation, and governance could be used to more equitably share and use forest water resources.” McNulty contributed to five chapters in the eight-chapter report and co-led the report’s chapter on determinants of the forest-water relationship, which highlights global trends within an interconnected social-ecological system. The chapter also discusses the factors driving changes to this system—including precipitation and air temperature, atmospheric chemistry influenced by air pollution, human-caused land use and land cover shifts, and increasing human populations and urbanization—that ultimately impact water quantity and quality at various scales and timeframes. The report, “Forest and Water on a Changing Planet: Vulnerability, Adaptation and Governance Opportunities,” was prepared by members of the Global Forest Expert Panel on Forests and Water—an initiative of the Collaborative Partnership on Forests led by the International Union of Forest Research Organizations (IUFRO). McNulty is an IUFRO deputy-coordinator who served as a panel member with more than 50 internationally recognized scientists from 20 nations to develop the report. Learn more...