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It is well known that forests purify water and overall are essential for water availability and global cooling at multiple scales: at watershed, regional and continental levels. New research reveals that the following five forest processes are more important than previously thought, and that management to support them can result in short and long-term benefits for water availability and climate:

  1. Forests promote precipitation.
  2. Trees and forests are natural cooling systems.
  3. Forests generate air and moisture flows.
  4. Trees and forests can improve groundwater recharge.
  5. Forests can moderate flooding.

With increasing water scarcity, climate change, and growing demands on forest resources, it is vital that we gain greater understanding of fundamental forest-water-climate relationships. A lack of clarity on these issues is a major constraint to implementing policy and practice that can optimise ecosystem services, and thus, the socioeconomic benefits of forests.

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