Forests and Water Interactions 2006-2010

TF Forests and Water Interactions 2006-2010

Background

New policy drivers are underpinning forestry schemes in many regions of the world. The recent rises in the price of fossil fuels has led to a renewed interest in forests as alternative sources of possibly lower cost bio-energy.  ‘Payments for Environmental Services’ schemes increasingly focus on forest as the supplier of these services. But what are the water resource implications of these schemes? How much water will be consumed in the growing of these crops and what might the costs/benefits be in relation to other societal, biodiversity and carbon sequestration factors?

The role of forests in relation to the sustainable management of water resources remains a contentious issue in many parts of the world. This is despite a significant advance in scientific understanding of forest and water interactions based on almost a century of research in forest hydrology. Uncertainty, and in some cases confusion, persists because of difficulties sometimes in translating research findings between countries and regions, between different catchment scales, between different forest types and species, and between different forest management regimes. There has also been a failure to effectively communicate results to policy makers and planners and to challenge entrenched views.

The IUFRO Task Force on Forests and Water Interactions will aim to:

  • Identify the process whereby  a consensus can be obtained amongst the forest hydrology community on the key forest and water interaction issues – recognizing and making explicit any caveats with respect to uncertainties in our knowledge about the interactions;
  • Highlight issues that remain poorly understood as the focus for further policy –relevant research;
  • Contribute to the development of a framework for assessing the cost/benefits of forestry schemes in relation to: timber production, biodiversity, societal, environmental and water resource factors;
  • Unite approaches developed for "Sustainable Forest Management" with those developed for "Integrated  Water Resources Management"

Terms of Reference

The Task Force will prepare policy briefs supported by case/demonstration studies on the above topics.

The Task Force will contribute to, and where necessary help to organize, meetings and workshops to explore Forest and Water interaction issues and encourage/facilitate improved dialogue and information exchange both among and between forest scientists and policymakers.

In this regard the terms of reference were discussed at the IUFRO sponsored conference on Forests and Water in a Changing Environment in Beijing, China from 8-10 August 2006 and will be subject to ongoing review.  The Task Force will also contribute to the 5th Ministerial Conference on the Protection of Forests in Europe (MCPFE), Warsaw, 2007.


Members and working methods of the Task Force on Forests and Water Interactions

The Task Force will consist of a small international core group that will include a balanced representation of forest hydrologists and policymakers who have an interest in forest and water issues. The Task Force will aim to develop a larger network of contributing members with interests in land and water management, the provision of environmental services, socio-economics, bio-energy, and climate change, as these relate to forest and water impacts. These members will be invited to participate in meetings, provide specialist input to specific problems, provide reviews of material prepared on behalf of the Task Force and, on occasion, represent the Task Force at meetings.