UN agencies have reviewed the impacts of forestry and hi-tech irrigation technologies on water, and are urging governments and other responsible actors to resolve conflicts, and take control of water resources and allocations. The World Water Council (WWC) has issued its 2016 report, which calls for mainstreaming water in a variety of global agendas, including infrastructure financing, climate action and sustainable development.
The UN Educational and Scientific Organization (UNESCO) reports on the experiences of Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Chile, China, the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), India, Malaysia, Peru, Romania, South Africa, Spain and the US in a publication titled ‘Forest Management and the Impact on Water Resources: A Review of 13 Countries.’ The report, which is based on research conducted in partnership with universities and other partners in those countries, discusses countries’ laws and policies on forestry, plantations, and environmental management, evaluates the effects of climate change, and recommends ways forward. The research shows that many countries are experiencing water quality problems caused by deforestation and soil degradation. Australia, Spain and the US are experiencing longer and more extreme fire seasons due to climate change.
The researchers note that many countries still fail to connect knowledge about the degradation of water resources with effective forest management policies. They warn that conflict between forestry management and watershed protection is on the rise everywhere, and recommends that future research focus on addressing the competing demands of water for agriculture, mining, cities and forest-related products, with the need to ensure healthy watersheds.