Brooks are small waterways with many functions.
Brooks are waterways that have a current and are smaller than rivers. According to its definition, its catchment area is from 10 sq km to 100 sq km, but smaller bodies of water with constant waterflow and where fish occur are also considered as brooks.
Brooks usually start in places where surface water gathers due to topography. They can also be formed from a spring or between lakes and ponds. Natural brooks have curves and variating depth. The speed of the waterflow also varies. Its water basin is a special aquatic habitat for flora and fauna specialised to living in flowing water.
Brooks combine features from both forest and aquatic environments, creating unique habitats. Wood debris that end up in the brook basin gives nutrition for benthic species; while on its shores, terrestrial species requiring the close presence of flowing water can be found.
Watercourses affect the condition of their near surroundings. Their soil and microclimate humidity support a different species composition compared to the general forest environment. Forests next to brooks often contain structural elements significant for biodiversity, such as deciduous tree species and deadwood. In addition to tree species composition, the presence of water can be seen in the structure of ground vegetation.
Brooks and their surrounding areas are habitats with high biodiversity value. They also provide a variety of forest ecosystem services. Brooks are significant for the hydrological cycle in forest environments. They carry excess runoffs towards larger water courses.
Brooks are considered as beautiful natural sites and they play an important part in the recreational use of forests. To safeguard water quality and biodiversity linked to brooks, these habitats and their buffer zones are left outside of forestry operations.