The problems of the Chesapeake Bay are largely the result of non-point source (NPS) pollutants. It is unquestionable that the conversion of forests to other land uses throughout the watershed and particularly adjacent to streams and rivers, has adversely affected the vitality of our water resources. Now, there is an increasing recognition of the role that forests can play to help reduce pollution when combined with other management practices. Research results from a variety of sources have documented the effectiveness of the riparian forest in reducing NPS loading from runoff and groundwater. Most of the research has been done in agricultural watersheds or in connection with silvicultural activities. Most attention is now, however, on the use of riparian forest buffer strips as a management practice. However, forest buffers are difficult to address in the same context as other common best management practices. Forest buffers are also recognized for their high value in wildlife and fish habitat and maintaining ecosystem integrity. The paper primarily discusses elements of the relationship between forests and water quality in the context of the forest buffer.