Water

How Trees Help Create the Fresh Water Supply

Information Sources

Trees and forests play a key role in producing the planet’s fresh water supply, by both creating and attracting clouds, and by guiding rainwater into rivers, lakes and the underground water table. Restoring currently damaged land with tree planting is the most effective way to secure a continual supply of water for drinking, agriculture, and to support all life. Here are 4 major ways that trees manage the water cycle:

1. Trees Add Moisture to the Air and Create Clouds
Trees draw water up from their roots all the way to their leaves where it becomes water vapor and is exhaled into the air. At the same time, the trees leaves release friendly bacteria that trigger the airborne water vapor to cluster together, forming clouds. These clouds also attract higher clouds in the sky that would have otherwise passed over these regions, combining with them to bring additional rain to the forest. This process circulates water from deep underground, into the air, and back down to the earth.

2. Trees Also Slow Rainfall
Rain falls to the ground quickly. Without trees or other plants, it rapidly runs into the rivers taking topsoil with it, reducing an area’s fertility while increasing flooding, landslides and erosion.  When rain falls on a forest, the leaves and needles of the trees slow the raindrops down dramatically, gently bringing the rain down to the forest floor.

3. Trees Help Soak the Water Into the Ground
The rainfall on the forest floor then soaks into the top layer of soil, which the trees have helped to make healthy and absorbent. The water captured by this spongy soil gradually filters down through channels created by the tree’s roots and soil organisms, into the underground waterways of the water table. From here gravity continues to draw the water through the earth until it emerges as a spring that feeds streams and rivers, or until it is drawn up from the ground through wells.

4. Trees Keep Rivers and Streams Cool and Protected
As the rivers and streams make their way to the sea, the shade provided by the surrounding trees keeps the water from evaporating too quickly, allowing the rivers to flow more abundantly, which enhances the value of the river to all surrounding life. The roots of the trees also hold the riverbanks together, reducing erosion and holding the integrity of the ecosystem in tact.

When It Comes to Fresh Water, Trees and Forests Are Our Greatest Ally
With freshwater for drinking and agriculture running out in places across the world, and droughts becoming more common each year, the Trillion Trees Campaign sees large-scale tree planting as being the world’s most affordable, practical, and multi-benefit opportunity to effectively bring trillions of gallons of rainwater back into the freshwater system each year.

Tree planting options start at just 10¢ a tree, so you can help plant a tree every day of the year for as little as $3 a month – or you can make a one time donation of any amount. By spreading the word about the Trillion Trees Campaign to your friends and family, you can help this campaign reach millions of people, and together we can fund the planting of a trillion trees.

Our Planting Partner’s Impact on Freshwater

The Trillion Trees Campaign has first partnered with Trees for the Future to help transform barren farmland in Africa into abundant Forest Gardens. Since 1989, Trees for the Future has planted over 127 million trees by providing local famers with seed, nursery materials and ‘agroforestry’ training – a land management system where trees, vegetable and medicinal crops are integrated to create a Forest Garden.

Most areas of Africa that we think of as desert were once lush tropical forests. 10,000 years of deforestation, to make room for grazing and agriculture, has stripped these lands of the ecological cycles that naturally renew the fertility of the soil and the cycling of water. The farmers that work with Trees for the Future reverse this trend by planting drought tolerant, fast growing pioneer species that make the most of the rainy season, and can grow up to 15 feet in one year, even in poor soil. These pioneer trees help reboot the water cycle, and within a few years, fresh water is flowing in the streams and rivers of formerly dry regions. All this while increasing the farmer’s income by up to 400%, removing carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, increasing wildlife habitat and so much more.

The Trillion Trees Campaign is 100% volunteer run with your donation going directly to Trees for the Future.