Climate change is already disturbing the hydrological functioning of forests. Nevertheless, with the historic agreement on climate change struck in Paris, France, in December last year, forests are now at the top of the global environmental agenda. The Paris Agreement formalizes the role of forests at the forefront of climate-change mitigation and adaptation.
Tropical forests provide crucial environmental services. There is strong evidence that sustainable forest management (SFM) can protect water catchments, thereby helping to maintain downstream water quality and flow and to reduce flooding and sedimentation while also contributing to local livelihoods. It is vital, therefore, to increase capacity for sound land-use planning and SFM to safeguard the potential of tropical forests and landscapes to provide the full range of benefits to society, including water supply.
ITTO is at the forefront of capacity building for SFM in the tropics. For example, its Voluntary Guidelines for the Sustainable Management of Natural Tropical Forests
(published in 2015) provide principles for, and guidance on, effective soil and water management in forests with the aim of maintaining the productivity and health of forests and their hydrological functions.
ITTO hopes that, with forests now at the top of the global environmental agenda, new investments will flow to tropical forests for their sustainable management and use. Recent efforts in many countries, some with the assistance of ITTO and other members of the Collaborative Partnership on Forests, show that targeted interventions can dramatically reduce deforestation and forest degradation and bring about SFM. ITTO is committed to working with its members and all stakeholders to conserve tropical forests, thereby securing the provision of fresh water for the current and future generations.
Watch the commemorative video of International Day of Forest 2016