Protecting Forests, Clean Water Amid Changing Remote-Work Landscape

800 450 Stroud Water Research Center
River with riparian forest
Diane Huskinson

By Diane Huskinson

COVID-19 and remote work have led many urban workers to leave behind the hubbub of city life and move to rural areas. Without forest protection, the increased demand for housing in upstream areas would certainly impact clean fresh water. Open spaces, and forests in particular, are clean water powerhouses, helping to filter pollution and reduce stormwater runoff and flooding. 

However, to make the case for preserving open space amid the demand for new development, it’s important to measure impact. Now scientists are doing just that.

Existing models don’t account for the increasing migration of urban dwellers to rural areas, so the Open Space Institute developed an approach that considers real-life factors such as local zoning, market trends, landowner intent, site characteristics, and knowledge of competing purchase offers.

In collaboration with Stroud Water Research Center, Academy of Natural Sciences of Drexel University, and Shippensburg University, OSI then used this new model to assess the water quality impact of 45 land protection projects spanning nearly 20,000 acres.

This work is funded by the William Penn Foundation as part of the Delaware River Watershed Initiative.

Learn more about this ongoing project in Quantifying the Value of Forest Protection for Clean Water.

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