Healthy Forests Provide for Water Quality and Quantity
No matter where you are in the world, you are always in a watershed. A watershed is simply an area of land that separates waters flowing to different bodies of water. To figure out which watershed you are in, ask yourself…if a raindrop fell right here, where would it end up? In Virginia, you may find that raindrop traveling all the way to the Chesapeake Bay, the Mississippi River, the Atlantic Ocean or the Albemarle-Pamlico Sound.
As water travels through a watershed, it is influenced by the land around it. Even the smallest headwater streams play a role in the quality of our water, which in turn influences our drinking water, fisheries, recreational opportunities, wildlife and much more. Forests are the single best land use for ensuring clean water. More than 50% of Virginia’s freshwater resources originate from the forests that cover close to two-thirds of the state. In addition to providing clean water, forests also absorb rainfall, refill groundwater aquifers, slow and filter stormwater runoff, reduce floods, and maintain watershed stability and resilience.
These water supply benefits come from all forests, whether young or old, pine or hardwood. Sediment, nutrients and other pollutants, including bacteria and other pathogens, are almost always higher from other land uses, especially in urban areas. Once forests are established, they continue to provide clean and reliable sources of water for decades. Fortunately, they can also be managed for a variety of products and priorities (e.g., timber, wildlife and recreation) without negatively impacting water resources. Foresters use a variety of techniques, called best management practices (BMPs), that allow roads, hiking trails, prescribed fire, timber harvesting and other management activities to be conducted without impacting water resources.
Protecting and increasing the forest cover in both rural and urban watersheds, particularly along rivers, streams and other bodies of water, is key to improving the health of the many impaired waterways, such as the Chesapeake Bay. By increasing the acres of riparian buffers, increasing tree canopy through afforestation and increasing urban tree canopy, the watershed forestry program aims to improve the water quality and ensure that Virginia has healthy waterways now and in the future.
Your local DOF forester can assist you with incorporating proper BMPs to protect water quality during the implementation of forest management activities on your property, as well as provide guidance about planting riparian forest buffers.
|Commonwealth of Virginia Chesapeake Bay TMDL Phase III Watershed Implementation Plan|
This document represents Virginia’s Phase III Watershed Implementation Plan (WIP) to achieve nutrient and sediment reductions needed to restore the Chesapeake Bay and its tidal tributaries.This Phase III WIP relies on the continued support and engagement of all stakeholders in Virginia.
Brochure by the Chesapeake Bay Foundation provides tips for keeping cattle healthy through better watering techniques.
|Riparian Forest Buffers – Forests on the Water’s Edge||P00140|
Publication is the effort of the Chesapeake Bay Program, including multiple states within the Chesapeake Bay Watershed, to educate the community leaders and the public about the benefits of riparian forest Buffers, their importance to watersheds for air quality, water quality and fish and wildlife habitat, forest Buffer losses and how we manage growth in riparian zones, how to maintain quality riparian forest Buffers, efforts in riparian forest restoration, and what you can do for forest Buffers. Printed copies available.
|Services for Landowners||P00112|
Brochure provides information about the services available to landowners from the Virginia Department of Forestry, including forest management and forest health, timber harvesting and water quality, land conservation, tree seedling production, and resource protection. Printed copies available.
|Publication||View||fire-and-emergency-response forest-health forest-management forestland-conservation nurseries urban-and-community-forestry water-quality||publication|
|Stormwater to Street Trees|
EPA publication explores engineering urban forests for stormwater management.
|Virginia’s Forestry Best Management Practices for Water Quality: Field Guide||P00134|
Technical field guide provides a convenient pocket instruction guide for timber harvesters to protect water quality when harvesting timber and comply with applicable laws. Printed copies available.
|Virginia’s Forestry Best Management Practices for Water Quality: Technical Manual||P00104|
Technical guide (5th edition) provides detailed instruction for timber harvesters to protect water quality when harvesting timber and comply with applicable laws. Printed copies available.
|Why Plant Forest Buffer? – Planting Riparian Forest Buffer is Real Forestry||FT0013|
Forestry topic information sheet emphasizes the importance of riparian Buffers to protect waterways, including what are riparian Buffers, riparian Buffer implementation, and cost-share programs available, such as the Conservation Reserve Enhancement Program (CREP).
Your local DOF forester can help guide you through the timber sale process and assist you with incorporating proper BMPs to protect water quality during the implementation of a forestry practice on your property, as well as provide guidance about planting riparian forest buffers. Contact your local DOF forester.