Forests and Their Relationships to Water

There is no resource in the world more important for humans, plants and animals than water. All living things need water and to take it a step further, clean water—to thrive.


In a nutshell, water makes the world go round.

Water is the most important resource to support life—and forests are one of the most important resources to support water. The relationship between forests and water is essential; forests are directly responsible for collecting and filtering rainwater, which is essential for developing clean water sources for plants, animals and humans around the world. The relationship also stands to protect the various ecosystems within the forest.

But what, exactly, is the relationship between forests and water? How do they work together to support life both in and out of the forest?

The “Sponge Effect”

Forests absorb and filter water in what we’ll call the “sponge effect.” As rain falls on a forest, the trees in the forest absorb the rainwater, filter out pollutants and slowly release it back into nearby bodies of water like rivers, streams or aquifers.

The “sponge effect” has large-scale implications on the availability of clean water. Forest water is significantly cleaner than other water sources, which brings down water treatment costs and makes it easier and cost-effective to get more clean water back into the ecosystem.

Protecting Ecosystems

In addition to increasing availability of clean water through filtering rainwater, forests can also protect the ecosystems near bodies of water like lakes or rivers. When a forest is close to a body of water, it has a host of positive effects for the water. For example, the shade of the trees can keep the water at a specific temperature, supporting the species who live within the water or can prevent erosion of pollutants and sediments into the water all while preserving the water quality.

How to Preserve the Relationship Between Water and Forests

Clearly, the relationship between water and forests is an important one for our environment. But irresponsible deforestation is putting access to clean water and the ecosystems within the forests across the globe at risk. It’s more important than ever for the timber industry to practice sustainability and protect forests. At Timber Products, we’re committed to sustainable forest practices and take great care to protect the 114,800 acres of forest in our care—including that forest’s relationship with water.

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