Freshwater plays a crucial role in the health of forest ecosystems and people around the world. Yet, according to the UN, more than 2 billion people worldwide still do not have access to clean water. This global water crisis reminds us how rare this vital resource is and reaffirms the importance of the UN's Sustainable Development Goal 6, that aims to provide access to clean and safe water for all by 2030.
More than 70% of the earth is covered by water, which corresponds to three quarters of its total surface area. However, most of this water is salty, with less than 1% of the world's water supply containing fresh water. Forests, on the other hand, play an important role in the cycle of freshwater formation, as trees influence the distribution of rainfall reaching the ground and the amount of water released into the atmosphere as vapour.
Water and trees: two inseperable elements
There can't be trees without water and water without trees. Trees' root system draws water from the soil and carries it to the leaves. From there, water escapes into the atmosphere in the form of water vapour. It is through this evapotranspiration phenomenon that 80% of the annual precipitation is released into the atmosphere. This cycle is essential to the life of trees because it allows them to feed on the nutrients present in the soil and thus to continue to develop.
Water sources also rely on the presence of trees on earth. Trees contribute to the production of natural drinking water, which accounts for 75% of the fresh water used by humans on a daily basis. The continuity of forest cover throughout the world is therefore necessary to ensure water quality, as it contributes to recharging groundwater, filtering water and promoting its circulation in the soil.
Water sources: treasures to preserve
The water contained in the soil, even if invisible, is an invaluable resource for all living organisms. At a time when climate change is threatening various ecosystems and human health, priority must be given to preserving the planet's water resources.
To make the invisible visible and to raise awareness of the importance of fresh water on earth, the 9th World Water Forum, the largest global event dedicated to water, will be held in Dakar. From 21 to 26 March 2022, through a series of meetings and debates, solutions will be sought to put in place social, political and economic measures favourable to the preservation of fresh water on earth. A major event that illustrates the need to manage water in a reasoned and sustainable manner throughout the world, but also to take care of the natural resources at our disposal.