Fishkill Ridge
Community Heritage

Forests Protest Water Supplies



Date: 14 September 2004
From: Peter Montague {}

By United Press International, Washington Times Sept. 14, 2004

Arlington, VA, Sep. 13 (UPI) - U.S. scientists have discovered that
streamside forests can play a critical role in protecting the world's
fresh water.

The scientists, at the Stroud Water Research Center in Avondale, Pa.,
said the findings about streamside, or riparian, forests have large
implications for the world's growing freshwater crisis. Currently, 20
percent of the planet's population lacks clean drinking water and more
than 2.2 million people die each year from diseases transmitted by
contaminated water and poor sanitation.

For some time, scientists and environmental policymakers have
recognized the role that riparian forests play in filtering pollutants
before they enter the stream. The new research shows, however, that
such forests also protect the health of the stream itself by enhancing
the ecosystem's ability to process organic matter and pollutants such
as nitrogen.

Therefore, the scientists said, deforestation of riparian lands
compromises both the quantity and the quality of a stream's ecosystem,
reducing its ability to deliver important services to humans.

The study was conducted on small streams, which comprise more than 90
percent of all streams in the United States, so there could be
enormous implications for improving water quality by planting trees
along stream banks, they said.


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