By protecting forests, promoting their sustainable management and actively reforesting them, the WaterFoundation aims not only to protect the forest ecosystem, which is essential for survival, but also to improve the water supply – because the two issues are closely linked. The Foundation bases its commitment on the UN 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development with the Development Goals:
6 – Clean Water and Sanitation;
13 – Climate Action;
15 – Protect and Promote Land Ecosystems.
Deforestation is a serious problem in many developing countries. The massive loss of forests has far-reaching negative impacts on the environment, local economies and society as a whole. The clearing of forest areas leads to a loss of habitats for animals and plants, not only reduces soil fertility, but also promotes soil erosion and flooding. Moreover, deforestation is an important factor in climate change, as forests store carbon and thus reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
Deforestation, clearing and grazing also have a direct impact on water supply. This is because forests play an important role in regulating the water balance. The soil in forests absorbs, filters and stores rainwater. A soil structure that has been altered by deforestation allows rainwater to run off more quickly. Because less water seeps into the soil, groundwater levels drop – water sources in the surrounding area can dry up. In many cases, deforestation also leads to a deterioration of water quality, as sediments and pollutants enter rivers and other water sources more quickly.
The WaterFoundation’s renaturation projects are an important building block for a sustainable water supply and at the same time make an important contribution to combating climate change and preserving biodiversity. The World Climate Report 2022 has impressively shown how necessary conservation and reforestation measures are for water resources.
As the first major nature and water conservation project, “Greening Anseba” was implemented with great success in Eritrea from 2016 to 2018. In Dirre Inchini (Ethiopia), the WaterFoundation will plant around 500,000 trees between 2022 and 2024 and accompany this with training measures on the importance of forests and their sustainable management. In the new priority region Peru, the REPANANS project has been running since the beginning of 2022 in the sparsely forested highlands of Peru, where pasture areas are being declared nature and water conservation areas. There is a water source in each of the protected areas. Seedlings are grown in specially established tree nurseries, which are later planted in the protected areas. The central goal is to replenish the groundwater reservoirs. Another project is planned in the Bolivian Amazon.