Goal 6 – Clean Water and Sanitation
Clean Water and Sanitation
Billions of people today do not have access to clean water or sanitation services. There are many factors that go into what helps and hinders these essentials, but often, it has a lot to do with the Earth’s soil.
Soil is delicate. In the last 150 years, about half of the topsoil on the planet has been eroded.
Soil erosion can be part of Earth’s natural process, however, too much soil erosion has damaging effects on freshwater sources.
When soil is moved, it breaks down. This creates sediment pieces that flow into streams and rivers. Carried far from their original home, the sediment pollutes the water. This can lead to decreasing animal life populations and blocked waterways.
The sediments also affect the quality of water. In turn, this has the chance to affect other factors of life, such as food supply. Clean water causes a positive impact, while dirty water causes a negative impact.
This issue is widespread. Today, the UN reports that 40% of people do not have access to clean water.
The erosion also affects the area where it’s soil came from. Land with eroded soil is not able to grow plants as easily. These areas are then more vulnerable to flooding, because there are fewer plants to hold water. In other areas this causes desertification, which drains natural water sources further.
How Trees Can Help
Trees serve as a first line of defense against soil erosion and other natural causes.
When it rains, trees help to slow the rainfalls decent, helping it to soak into the ground. This prevents flash flooding, a soil erosion culprit.
Trees also help ground the soil, keeping it from eroding into waterways. Trees and their roots help to filter out water from storms entering fresh water sources.
Forests also account for the majority of drinking water sources. Forests surround and protect natural lakes, streams, rivers, and reservoirs.
In summary, trees help stop water from getting dirty. With more clean water available, more can be dedicated to drinking and sanitation services, giving more people access to these fundamental resources.
See how trees support all sustainable development goals here.