Northern Victoria’s highest water-producing forests would produce 15 per cent more water by the end of the century if logging ceased immediately, a report will say today.
The increased water flows would benefit the two rivers most important to agriculture and food production in Victoria: the Goulburn and the Murray.
The report, commissioned by the Australian Conservation Foundation, will argue that logging montane forests in the Goulburn catchment will be less lucrative in future than maximising the forests’ potential for water production and carbon sequestration.
The Woodchipping our Water report claims an immediate halt on logging in those parts, near Marysville and Healesville, would increase flows in the Goulburn River by 3807 billion litres over the next 100 years.
That is enough water to supply Melbourne’s current consumption for about nine years, and the report values that water at $1.68 billion under present prices.
The Goulburn flows into the Murray near Echuca, and traditionally provides about a quarter of the Murray’s flows.
ACF spokesman Lindsay Hesketh said on top of environmental gains, more jobs would be created by managing the forest for water and carbon industries, including roles such as firefighters, than with logging: “Water production and carbon sequestration ‚Ä¶ can make a much greater financial return than current logging practices.”
But the Victorian Association of Forest Industries urged caution at the report.
“The only significant issue that impacts upon water yield is rainfall; the amount that forest harvesting contributes to water yield reduction is negligible,” said association chief executive Philip Dalidakis.
“The biggest threat to water yield is bushfires.”
Originally Published at http://www.theage.com.au/national/logging-strips-water-resource-acf-20090519-bea0.html