Why It Matters

Forests act like sponges. Trees and soil absorb rainfall and melted snow, reducing the risk of extreme flooding. They slowly release water as the snow melts in the spring and summer, providing sustenance during the hot and dry season. Scientists are gaining knowledge about the importance of trees in the creation of clouds and rainfall. Forests also act like a filter. They keep water clean by capturing chemicals and soil before these particles enter waterways.

By keeping waterways clean, forests provide recreation opportunities, such as fishing and kayaking, and save communities millions of dollars in water treatment costs. More than 50% of America’s drinking water originates from forests. Forest loss and degradation — mainly due to sprawling development, insects, diseases and uncontrolled fires — threatens the ability of forests to act as sponges and filters.