Happy World Water Day, everyone,

Green Mountain NF
Chittenden Brook in Green Mountain National Forest. Credit: Colin Rhinesmith

Yesterday, we celebrated the International Day of Forests, declared as such by the UN just last year. But today is another important day, which was first designated by the UN way back in 1993. It’s World Water Day, a day to reflect on the importance of freshwater and to advocate for its sustainable management. In addition, 2013 is the International Year of Water Cooperation, which is why cooperation is the theme of year’s World Water Day.

First, let’s look at the way that forests — to anthropomorphize — “cooperate” with precipitation to provide clean drinking water for communities. Trees catch, filter and cleanse rain on its way toward the underground aquifers from which we get our drinking water. Forests also play the important role of maintaining snowpack at higher elevations so that melting and runoff occur more slowly. Without the forests, much of this snow would melt more rapidly and flood areas downstream. In the U.S., more than 50 percent of our freshwater comes from forests.

Bridger-Teton NF
Island Lake in Bridger-Teton National Forest. Credit: Show Us Your Togwotee/Flickr

Of that percent, much comes from our national forests. That’s why over the years, American Forests has partnered with the U.S. Forest Service and others to maintain and restore these important resources. This kind of cooperation is vital to ensure our nation’s supply of freshwater. Over the years, we’ve conducted more than 200 Global ReLeaf projects in national forests. This year’s projects include plantings in 14 national forests, from Green Mountain National Forest in Vermont, where we’re reforesting a riparian corridor damaged by Hurricane Irene to improve stream health, to Bridger-Teton National Forest in Wyoming, where planting of whitebark pine may help with snowpack.

You can also play an important role in this cooperation for conservation. Discover all the ways you can give and help.

As Secretary‐General Ban Ki‐moon said in his video message for the International Year of Water Cooperation 2013, “We must work together to protect and carefully manage this fragile, finite resource.”