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Forestry and Water Quality

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Home research Forestry and Water Quality

Our research is attempting to understand the effects of forests and forestry on water quality. Water draining forests is usually of high quality and many of the world’s largest cities rely on water draining forest protected areas. On the other hand, forest operations have the potential to impair water quality by increasing diffuse pollution. Our studies are investigating the effects of forest operations such as cultivation, drainage, road construction, fertilisation and harvesting on water quality. The work includes studies on surface water acidification, carbon and nitrogen cycling, peatland restoration and the benefits of woodland planting for water quality and ecology, in the riparian zone and the wider catchment.

Research objectives

To study the effects forests and forestry on water quality and the water environment across spatial and temporal scales.

To discover ways in which forestry and forests can contribute improvements to the water environment.

To test the efficacy of the UKFS Water Guidelines and associated guidance, and inform future revisions.

Latest updates

  • Journal paper published on The Effects of Forest Clearance for Peatland Restoration on Water Quality
  • Research note on Forestry and Surface Water Acidification 
  • Final Report on The Effects of Aerial and Hand Fertiliser Applications on Water Quality
  • Scottish Water commissioned report on The Effects of Forestry on Manganese, Water Colour and Dissolved Organic Carbon in Drinking Water Catchments 
  • Report on The Role of Targeted Woodland Planting in Mitigating against Diffuse Pollution and Flood Risk 
  • Update report on The Effects of Forest Felling on Water Quality in Sub-Catchments of Loch Shiel 
Forestry and Water Quality
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Forestry and Water Quality
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Funding & partners
  • forestry commissionThe work is done in partnership with Universities of Edinburgh, Glasgow, Leeds, St Andrews and Stirling; The Galloway and Kyle of Sutherland Fisheries Trusts.
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Related content


The effects of peatland restoration on water quality

We are investigating the effects of peatland restoration by deforestation on nutrient and carbon transport to the water environment.

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Managing forest operations to protect the water environment

This Practice Guide provides advice to forest managers, practitioners, planners and supervisors, on how forest operations should be planned and managed to protect the water environment.