Thirsty plantations drinking us dry

A global study has shown the obvious – that timber plantations have a mixed effect on the environment.

While they can help to counteract greenhouse gas emissions, stabilize soil, and moderate strong winds, they can also stop streams flowing.

Dairy and sheep farmers in the Green Triangle area of Victoria and South Australia say they have noticed that water run off onto their properties has been reduced after the establishment of timber plantations nearby.

The study found that around 10 years after establishment of plantations, on average, about one in eight of the streams had dried for one or more years. And after 20 to 25 years the run off from streams in those plantations had decreased by about a half.

The CSIRO’s Dr Damien Barrett, who contributed to the study, says governments need to think carefully about where timber plantations are grown.

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