How Trees Clean Water

Leah Feor  | June  01,  2016 | 3 min read

Trees are designed by nature to hold and clean water, making them a vital part of any infrastructure whether it be in an urban or rural area. In a previous blog, How Planting Trees Can Help Reduce Your Carbon Footprint, we explained that mature trees help reduce runoff in urban settings. This prevents water from ending up in storm drains, and that reduces dependency on water treatment facilities. The benefits add up over time, since gallons of rainfall are diverted from treatment, saving time and energy.

While the planet is made up of two thirds water, and the human body contains about 60%, trees hold a little less, 50% of their weight in water

trees clean water

how trees absorb water

Trees not only save rain water from ending up in the storm drains, trees also play a large role in our ecosystems watershed. A watershed is an area of land that catches the water which then makes its way into streams, rivers, lakes, and ultimately to the sea.

After a period of heavy rainfall or flash flooding, trees will absorb a large part of the rainfall, which reduces the negative environmental impact. These trees will then release water back into the earth and atmosphere over time rather than all at once.

This unique system allows trees to absorb water through the leaves – sending it off into the air as oxygen and water vapor – and also pushing the water down through its roots, filtering out harmful substances as it flows into our groundwater.

how trees absorb water

how trees prevent soil erosion

In addition to helping to absorb rainfall and to clean the water, trees' unique root system is holding everything together underground, preventing soil erosion.

Why is erosion prevention important? Because at a time when sea levels are rising and people are living on the water’s edge, erosion prevention is crucial to help reduce landslides and land losses, which can have devastating consequences to both the environment and the local community. 

river in a forest

One small act such as planting a tree can play a part in mitigating the consequences of natural disasters. Keep in mind though; you need to do the act before the benefits appear. So go ahead and plant a tree, or perhaps gift a tree to a loved one. After all, it’s an investment that costs far less than an umbrella, and it will help shelter us from some of the biggest storms.

Plant Trees Where They're Needed Most
Plant Trees Where They're Needed Most
Plant Trees Where They're Needed Most
Plant Trees Where They're Needed Most
Plant Trees Where They're Needed Most
Plant Trees Where They're Needed Most
Plant Trees Where They're Needed Most
Plant Trees Where They're Needed Most
Plant Trees Where They're Needed Most
Plant Trees Where They're Needed Most
Plant Trees Where They're Needed Most
Plant Trees Where They're Needed Most
Plant Trees Where They're Needed Most
Plant Trees Where They're Needed Most

Plant Trees Where They're Needed Most

As the need for reforestation is global and ever-changing, we feature where trees are most needed now. Today, we're raising funds to jumpstart forest fire recovery in British Columbia. Learn more

With your help, we will:

  • Restore landscapes damaged by a historic season of wildfires
  • Create habitat for iconic biodiversity like the moose and grizzly bear
  • Support old-growth management areas to maintain complex ecosystems
  • This reforestation initiative is helping to restore the landscape in British Columbia after the Hanceville fire burned over 590,000 acres in 2017 and natural regeneration has not occurred. The fire has impacted the forest, soils, riparian ecosystems, wildlife, and water quality. Local indigenous communities have seen their ability to hunt and gather food drastically altered. But your support will go a long way! The goal of planting trees here is to not only re-establish a healthy forest, but also to plant species that will be resilient in the face of climate change. Thank you so much for your support of healthy forests! 🌲
  • Planting trees will catalyze the process of returning the area to a forested state. Newly planted trees will begin the process of sequestering atmospheric carbon, and over time improve the hydrological benefits of the forest. The ecosystems that have been greatly simplified by extreme fire conditions will once again become complex ecosystems, This project will also create habitat for many local wildlife species including mule deer, moose, black and grizzly bear, wolves, sandhill cranes, various raptors, songbirds, and small mammals.
  • A personalized tree certificate (see gallery) to say thanks for your donation. We'll also send you updates about this project, so you can track the impact your trees are having on the community and environment.
  • B.C.'s rich forest diversity includes more than 40 different species of native trees, with some of Canada’s most interesting and valuable tree species. In this project, we made efforts to maximize species diversity, including the following species: Douglas-fir, lodgepole pine, hybrid spruce, ponderosa pine, trembling aspen.

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