A watershed’s health directly affects the quantity and quality of water sources as well as water transport and treatment costs. Healthy forested lands provide critical watershed functions as natural infrastructure by minimizing erosion and pollutants, purifying water, and reducing the impact of floods and droughts.

Generating: overview map

know your watershed

total watershed area
tree cover (2000)
Displaying tree cover with > canopy density
major dams
potential tree cover
water intake
land cover

watershed risks

Watershed risk summary

Changes in the landscape, such as deforestation, can threaten a watershed’s ability to regulate water flows, control water quality, and provide other critical ecosystem services.

    We consider four watershed risks:
  • Recent Forest Loss
  • Historical Forest Loss
  • Erosion Risk
  • Fire Risk

Risk scores range from 1 – 5. A score of 4 and above indicates that the watershed health is more likely to suffer as a result of exposure to that stressor. Further investigation and urgent action could be needed to mitigate the risk.

Jump to recommendations according to watershed risk summary.

recent forest loss

Risk Score: -

This watershed experienced -- Ha of tree cover loss from 2001 to 2014, accounting for - of total tree cover (2000), presenting a -- trend.

Recent forest loss risk was measured by the area of total forest loss from 2001 to 2014 as a share of total forest extent (year 2000). The threshold of canopy density for identifying forest and forest loss is set to > across the globe, which may include natural forest, plantations and other forms of vegetation depending on the region. This risk score is not applicable to arid areas and areas where total forest extent (year 2000) is less than 10% of watershed.

Recent forest loss estimates the potential of damaging impact from recent changes (2001 – 2014) in the extent of forest cover in a watershed. As forests are converted to other land uses or are unnaturally disturbed, their ability to regulate flow and purify water diminishes, putting communities at risk of flood, drought, higher cost of treatment, and greater incidence of drinking water contamination. In addition to the area of forest removed, the duration and magnitude of a watershed’s response depends on various factors, including age and type of forest removed, climate, topography, and size of the watershed.

Generating: recent tree loss map

historical forest loss

Risk Score: -

This watershed was covered by -- Ha of forest, accounting for - of watershed area. The total tree cover (2000) accounts for -- of potential forest.

Historical forest loss risk is approximated by comparing total forest extent (year 2000) to potential forest coverage. The threshold of canopy density for identifying forest and forest loss is set to > % across the globe. This risk score is not applicable to arid areas and areas where potential forest coverage is less than 10% of the watershed.

Historical forest loss measures the potential threat on a watershed’s capacity to deliver ecosystem services as a result of forest cover change in the past (prior to 2000). Compared to recent forest loss, forest loss that took place decades ago may lead to different hydrological responses with greater uncertainty in a watershed. In addition to the extent of forest removed, other factors that contribute to a watershed’s capacity to regulate flow and control water quality include age and type of forest removed, climate, and land management since forest removal.

Generating: historical tree loss map


Risk Score: -

The overall erosion risk of this watershed is .

Erosion risk is derived from the Revised Universal Soil Loss Equation, adjusted to extend its applicability to a global scale. Factors include rainfall erosivity, slope steepness, soil erodibility, and land cover.

Erosion is a significant problem that affects both water quality and quantity. High erosion deteriorates water quality and reduces reservoir capacity, increasing cost of water treatment and capital expenses, and damaging safety of water supplies. High erosion risk is usually linked to erodible soil, intense rainfall, steep topography, and conversion of forest and other natural lands to pasture, cropland, and other human developments.

Generating: erosion map


Risk Score: -

There were - fire alerts over the past 24 hours. An average of - fires occurred annually for the past ten years.

Learn more about Global Forest Watch Fires

Fire risk is measured by average annual fire occurrence per unit area in a watershed in the most recent past ten years (January 1st, 2006 to December 31st, 2015).

Fires are a common form of disturbance in some forested watersheds. High intensity or large fires can result in significant increases in runoff, erosion, and tree mortality, all of which can negatively impact water quality and flow regulation. Although the effects are usually short-lived, long-term effects, magnitude, and persistence of downstream effects are uncertain.

Generating: recent fires map

baseline water stress

Baseline water stress (BWS) measures the ratio of total water withdrawals to annual available renewable surface water supplies.

We use this data to set the context for landscape water-related risk for a given watershed. BWS serves as a good proxy for water-related challenges more broadly, given that areas of higher water stress will likely be subject to higher depletion of surface and groundwater resources and more competition amongst users, as well as the associated impacts on water quality and other ecosystem services. Watersheds with high baseline water stress may warrant urgent, appropriate action to respond to the watershed risks listed above.

Learn more about the Aqueduct project

Generating: baseline water stress map

plan for action

recommended natural infrastructure strategies

Risks scores of 4 or higher should be addressed by specific actions. Highlighted is the list of recommendations and case studies to mitigate high risks to this watershed.

riskstrategydescriptionCase Studies
No significant risks for this watershed.
Recent Tree Cover LossEcosystem Protection
  • Conservation zones: Setting aside natural areas with high conservation value to preserve biodiversity and maintain forests, wetlands, and other open lands as natural infrastructure to regulate water flow and improve quality.
  • Sustainable forestry: Engaging in best forestry practices to minimize negative environmental impacts and disturbance to forests to deliver critical watershed services such as water purification and flood mitigation.
  • Road network regulation: Limiting road creation near vulnerable forests, which has been heavily linked to deforestation that diminishes forests’ ability to regulate flow and purify water.
Historical Tree Cover LossLandscape Restoration
  • Reforestation: Planting seedlings in burnt or deforested areas to stem the rate of erosion and restore the land.
  • Assisted natural regeneration: Enhancing the establishment of secondary forest from degraded grassland and shrub vegetation by protecting and nurturing the mother trees and their wildlings inherently present in the area which may enhance aquifer recharge.
  • Agroforestry: Managing forests together with crops and/or animal production systems in agricultural settings.
ErosionErosion Control
  • Vegetation buffering: Planting or maintaining trees/ shrubs along the sides of roads and waterways to capture runoff and pollutants.
  • Slope erosion reduction: Slowing the rate of erosion on steep sloped lands by creating various barriers to sediment movement. Examples include contour felling of trees, silt fences, and terracing.
  • Agricultural best management practices: Reducing the amount of pesticides, fertilizers, animal waste, and other pollutants entering water resources, and conserving water supply. Examples include contour farming, cover crops, and terrace construction.
FireFire Management
  • Forest fuel reduction: Reducing wildfire severity and related sediment and ash pollution through mechanical forest thinning and controlled burns.
  • Alternative land clearing: Preventing fire from slash-and-burn by using alternative land-clearing and management solutions such as alley cropping.

beyond the numbers

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