We must save water - and trees can help.
Water is running out. So much of it is needed on a daily basis - from drinking and washing to industrial agricultural practices. Our water stores are not endless, but limited. Freshwater - water that we can use - only makes up 2.5% of the earth’s water, the rest is saltwater. We have to act now before our supplies are exhausted.
Why is it running out?
We are using an extortionate amount of water. The largest culprit of this is the agriculture sector - they are responsible for 90% of global water consumption.
In the UK, more than three billion litres of drinking water is wasted every day.
However, it's not just the big corporate companies that are exhausting our supply of freshwater, but it is also the small quantity of wasted water each day which adds up. An example of this is from household leaks. In the US, water wasted from small leaks adds up to more than 1 trillion gallons a year. As time progresses and our supply diminishes, we have to become far more responsible about our water, otherwise water restrictions will need to be made. It is predicted that by 2025, 2/3 of the world’s population could experience water restrictions.
So, how is planting trees the answer to our water shortage problems?
Most of the accessible freshwater is provided by underground reserves supplied by forests - one of the steps in the water cycle. You probably remember learning about the water cycle at school, but perhaps there was less emphasis on the large part that trees play in it. The water cycle is the process of water circulating between the earth’s bodies of water, the atmosphere and the land. Because of the large amount of water that trees retain, they play a vital part in the water cycle. So, the destruction of trees results in a drier climate and desertification.
Trees provide excellent groundwater permeability. The roots of trees loosen the soil and make it easier for water to filter downwards. When an area is full of trees, it creates the perfect surface to prevent runoff- the water filters down instead of sliding across. The faster that water runs down into the soil, the sooner it gets back into the water table. The water needs to get into the water table fast, as this speeds up the process of water becoming useable. Without trees, water remains on the soil and the balance of the water cycle will be ruined.
Through deforestation, humans have disrupted the natural world’s water cycle. Urbanisation has lead to an increase in runoff which then creates floods. When floods occur and water is not going back into the water table fast enough, water is in the wrong part of the water cycle, and we experience droughts, erosions, silting and desertification.
Trees also create shade and therefore help to conserve soil moisture. The transpiration of trees helps to prevent heat build-up. Trees have so many important roles to play in the balance of nature, which is why they are vital in maintaining the health of our planet.
Not just water…
It’s not just their position in the water cycle that make trees so vital, they are essential sources of food and medicine and provide habitats for wildlife. Perhaps most importantly, they store Co2 which helps to slow down climate change. 80% of original forests have been damaged or subjected to deforestation. In cities in developing countries, forests are vital for their water supply - they directly suffer from the loss of trees. When humans cut trees down, they harm so much of nature, especially ourselves.