Woodland Waters

Why are forests important for streams and vernal pools?

A tree canopy enhances the water quality of streams and vernal pools, which in turn provide essential food, water, shelter, habitat and travel corridors for wildlife. Tree roots curb stream erosion so that sediment doesn’t clog waterways. Leaves, twigs, branches and tree trunks that fall into streams also filter water, create spawning (breeding) pools for fish species, and add nutrients to the food web. Shade from trees also helps to keep woodland waters cool, thereby slowing evaporation and maintaining these key habitats that sustain all sorts of wildlife, including aquatic insects, fish, amphibians (frogs and salamanders), reptiles (turtles and snakes), birds and mammals.

Shade is especially critical for vernal pools, bodies of water that seasonally dry out and disappear. In the spring, amphibians like wood frogs and spotted salamanders breed in vernal pools and depend on ephemeral pools lasting long enough for their eggs to hatch and their larvae to become lung-breathing adults, able to survive on land.


Habitat Stewardship Series: Headwater Streams and Vernal Pools
UNH Cooperative Extension

Bennett, Karen P. editor. 2010. Good Forestry in the Granite State: Recommended Voluntary Forest Management Practices for New Hampshire (second edition).
UNH Cooperative Extension