Forest-Water Interactions Under Global Change

  • Julia A. Jones
  • Xiaohua Wei
  • Emma Archer
  • Kevin Bishop
  • Juan A. Blanco
  • David Ellison
  • Mark B. Gush
  • Steven G. McNulty
  • Meine van Noordwijk
  • Irena F. CreedEmail author
Part of the Ecological Studies book series (ECOLSTUD, volume 240)


This chapter reviews how global change affects forest-water interactions and water availability to ecosystems and people and synthesises current understanding of the implications of present and anticipated changes to forests and tree cover for local and global hydrology. Forest cover has declined in the past half-century, despite an increase in plantation forestry. Natural and human disturbances affect forest components (e.g. canopy and leaf area, litter and soil surface, rooting depth, and soil porosity) that in turn affect hydrological processes (e.g. interception, evapotranspiration, infiltration, soil moisture storage, and percolation). Many of these changes result from several influential natural disturbance processes including insects and pathogens, wildfire, ice storms, and windthrow, and human disturbances including establishment and harvest of forests, plantations, agroforestry areas, and urban/peri-urban forests. However, each disturbance process affects different components of the forest, producing distinctive hydrologic effects. Climate change will directly alter forest hydrological processes, and social and economic factors will directly alter forest management, via intensive plantations, deforestation, forest degradation, selective logging, loss of riparian forest, and loss of urban trees, and changes in disturbance regimes. Despite extensive knowledge of forest hydrology, forest changes and their effects on hydrology are poorly documented in many areas of the world, and novel combinations of processes and contexts may produce surprising outcomes. Thus, there is a clear need for more geographically extensive and long-term place-based studies of forest and water. In summary, future climate and social changes will alter forests and water, requiring continued research and collaboration with forest managers and forest owners both for improved resilience to such changes, and to better realize multiple benefits.


Global change Forest disturbance Forest management Water management Risk Uncertainty Knowledge gaps 



This book chapter is based on the collaborative work of scientific experts who authored the Global Forest Expert Panels (GFEP) assessment on Forests and Water that was published as a report titled ‘Forest and Water on a Changing Planet: Vulnerability, Adaptation and Governance Opportunities’. We acknowledge the reviewers of this book chapter for their insightful comments that produced an improved product. We also acknowledge the financial and in-kind support provided by the Ministry for Foreign Affairs of Finland, the US Forest Service, The World Bank Group/PROFAR, and the Austrian Federal Ministry of Sustainability and Tourism.


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Copyright information

© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2020

Authors and Affiliations

  • Julia A. Jones
    • 1
  • Xiaohua Wei
    • 2
  • Emma Archer
    • 3
  • Kevin Bishop
    • 4
  • Juan A. Blanco
    • 5
  • David Ellison
    • 6
  • Mark B. Gush
    • 7
  • Steven G. McNulty
    • 8
  • Meine van Noordwijk
    • 9
  • Irena F. Creed
    • 10
    Email author
  1. 1.College of Earth, Ocean, and Atmospheric Sciences (CEOAS)Oregon State UniversityCorvallisUSA
  2. 2.Earth, Environmental and Geographical SciencesUniversity of British Columbia (UBC)KelownaCanada
  3. 3.Centre for Environmental Studies/Department of Geography, Geoinformatics and MeteorologyUniversity of PretoriaHatfieldSouth Africa
  4. 4.Department of Aquatic Sciences and AssessmentSwedish University of Agricultural SciencesUppsalaSweden
  5. 5.Departamento de Ciencias, Universidad Publica de NavarraPamplonaSpain
  6. 6.External Expert ConsultantZurichSwitzerland
  7. 7.Science & CollectionsRoyal Horticultural SocietyLondonUK
  8. 8.USDA Forest Service, Eastern Forest Environmental Threat Assessment CenterRaleighUSA
  9. 9.World Agroforestry Centre (ICRAF)Indonesia Wageningen UniversityWageningenThe Netherlands
  10. 10.School of Environment and Sustainability (SENS)University of SaskatchewanSaskatoonCanada

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