Skip navigation

Resources for Tree Farmers

Clean Water

Approximately 80 percent of our nationís fresh water resources originate in forests. Americaís family-owned woodlands, the largest forest ownership group in the United States covering roughly 262 million acres, are essential green infrastructure that supplies the nation with clean water. However, many of these forests are at riskóroughly 1.5 million acres of forest are lost each year to development. The United States Forest Service predicts that by the year 2030, roughly 44.2 million acres of forests will experience substantial increases in development. With the disappearance of these forests, we lose the natural green infrastructure that keeps our water clean.

AFF supports policies that provide water quality protections on forested lands while maintaining the economic viability of forested lands. The Foundation supports voluntary-based approaches to encourage water quality protection as an effective tool to ensure water quality protection on forested lands.


Because of this continued loss of the forest land base and our natural water filtration systems, policies must be structured to provide adequate water quality protection while maintaining the economic viability of family woodlands. If family woodland owners have appropriate incentives to maintain their forested land, these owners can continue to provide the clean water benefits that we all enjoy every day.

  • Provide Market-Based Approaches to Water Quality
    Maintenance and improvements are costs to any water system.  However, too often it simply is not cost effective for a forest owner to follow best practices. The family forest owners who supply our lands with so much clean water should be appropriately compensated so that they can follow sustainable management practices, improve the water quality and quantity, and maintain a healthy water supply for us all.
  • Support Voluntary Best Management Practices
    Sustainable management of forested watersheds has proven an effective alternative to expensive water treatment infrastructure.  Some forest management activities may have short-term implications for water quality in a localized area, including increased stream sedimentation. However, studies have demonstrated that implementation of, in some cases voluntary and other cases regulatory, Water Quality Best Management Practices (BMPs) effectively eliminates these impacts. Water quality policies should support voluntary best management practices to maintain water quality on forested lands.
  • Safeguard Against Negative Economic Impacts
    Family forest owners frequently lack the capital to invest in long-term investments that see infrequent returns, especially when the economic environment isnít favorable. Policies should ensure that water quality incentives and regulations include mechanisms to safeguard against negative economic impacts that can undermine the ability of family woodland owners to maintain forested watersheds.


Recent Actions


For more information please read the AFF Board approved policy brief.