Idaho forests: not just a pretty place

Forests give us clean air, water and other outputs critical to all living things

Most of the water used by people, fish and wildlife in Idaho flows from our public and private forest lands. Forests play a vital role in the hydrological cycle, as they regulate the flow and purification of water for human consumption.

Forests help store and cleanse the water that flows through them, acting as sponges, retarding snow melt so that it can slowly be released during the warmer summer months.

FOREST FACT:  Most of Idaho’s municipal water systems use water that originates from forestlands, including those managed for wood production.

What is a Watershed?

The University of Idaho extension service defines a watershed as the entire area of land that delivers water, sediment, debris, and dissolved materials to a particular body of water.  Many of Idaho’s watersheds are covered in forests. Forested watersheds are closely tied to the hydrologic cycle, a system of interrelated processes by which water moves through an ecosystem.

Click the image to watch a short Forest Fast Break video to learn more about the connection between forests and clean water, or click here.

Forests help store and cleanse the water that flows through them, acting like sponges, retarding snow melt so that it can slowly be released during the warmer summer months.

Click the image to read how forests affect our drinking water or click here.

Read “Idaho Forestry Best Management Practices Field Guide: Using BMPs to Protect Water Quality” here.

Forests Provide Food, Medicine and Chemicals

Our forests also provide food not just for wildlife but humans too. Forests provide leaves, honey, fruits, seeds, nuts, roots, tubers, mushrooms, insects and wild animals. Did you know that forests also provide provide many plants used as traditional medicines as well as providing the raw materials for the pharmaceutical industry?  There are tree-based chemicals in many of our food and beverage products. Some of these chemicals are used as flavorings, while others keep the ingredients in food from separating.

Pollination in Forests

Wild and managed pollinators contribute substantially to the food production systems of Idaho, to the economic vitality of the agricultural sector and to the biodiversity in the ecosystems they inhabit.  Forest habitats provide plentiful nesting and forage opportunities for pollinators throughout the year.