Protecting water resources
Water is essential for all life on earth. We are all dependent on clean water resources. Forests play a major role in protecting water as part of a complex hydrological cycle. Trees consume massive amounts of water during their growth, but a large part is transpired back into the atmosphere as vapour. Trees and other forms of vegetation absorb and purify water before it evaporates and returns to the atmosphere. Forests also balance groundwater levels and soil humidity. They control flooding and erosion by absorbing and slowing down surface runoffs. Aquatic habitats in forests play a special role integrating water and forest ecosystems. Sustainable forest management therefore comes with an obligation to protect water, both in quality and quantity.
Clean water is a basic necessity
All life on earth is somehow dependent on water. Water is recognized as a fundamental part of our sustainable forest management strategy. Natural water systems are valuable in many respects and we must therefore preserve them in good condition. Clean surface waters support aquatic biodiversity and the wellbeing of human communities. Groundwater reserves are an important source of drinking water.
Our water-friendly forestry
Forestry can have impacts on water. Our sustainable forest management strategy prevents negative impacts and maintains the water-regulating ecosystem services provided by forests.
Water protection has gained importance in forestry over the decades, and this progress will continue into the future. The basic requirements are laid down in legislation, forest certification standards, and in recommendations and guidelines issued by authorities and forestry organizations. Based on research and follow-up of best practices, we are constantly working to improve our water protection efforts.
We use a broad array of solutions for managing the impact of forestry on water resources. Our main harvesting solution is to leave untouched buffer zones along water courses and aquatic habitats. Excavation breaks and infiltration fields are among the structural solutions we apply in soil preparation and drainage. The main idea is to prevent leaching from the harvest area and to purify solid particles and nutrients before runoff enters any water system. We minimize runoffs by utilizing the vegetation’s own ability to absorb water and, where needed, we add any necessary buffering constructions. We follow separate guidelines for groundwater areas, which include restrictions on fertilizing and ditching.
Our plantations in Uruguay are established in areas where sufficient water supply is always available. We do not have any plantations in water-stressed areas. Our impacts on water resources are constantly monitored at selected measurement points.