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Perhaps the most important ecosystem service provided by forests, which is a basic requirement for life, is the supply of clean water. Forests facilitate the storage of clean water through filtering precipitation through the tree canopy. This, in effect, slows the rate at which precipitation collects at the ground surface allowing it to remain unsaturated. It is estimated that over 2/3 of the clean water supply is United States is contained within stream water, which was filtered through forests, with a direct value exceeding $27 billion per year (Snail 2009). This clean water can be captured and stored in watersheds that in turn, can be used for variety of purposes including agriculture, municipal drinking water, recreational activities and habitat for wildlife.
Global forests provide habitat for wildlife, which in turn, contribute to the maintenance of ecological processes. Wildlife is directly utilized by humans for hunting, observation and ecotourism. However wildlife is considered an important ecosystem service because of its indirect contribution to many other ecological processes. Wildlife plays an important role in the pollination and seed dispersal of crops. Eighty percent of the world 1,330 cultivated crop species are pollinated by wild pollinators who typically live in forested regions (Abroamorvitz 1997). Additionally wildlife plays an important role in biologically controlling pest populations, specifically in timber species (Snail 2009).
Wiersum, K.F. 1984. Surface erosion under various tropical agroforestry systems. In: O’Loughlin, C.L. and
Pearce, A.J. (eds.) Proceedings Symposium on Effects of Forest Land Use on Erosion and Slope Stability.
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