A comparison of the biophysical and economic water-use efficiencies of indigenous and introduced forests in South Africa

Publication year: 2011
Source: Forest Ecology and Management, In Press, Corrected Proof, Available online 14 June 2011

Russell M., Wise , Peter J., Dye , Mark B., Gush

Water resources in many catchments in South Africa (SA) are over committed and water is projected to become scarcer. The impacts of plantation forestry on water resources in SA are well known and legislation limits further afforestation. Nevertheless demands for wood continue to grow. A challenge therefore is to increase the production of forest products within water constraints. This paper presents research into the economic and biophysical efficiencies with which indigenous and introduced tree-production systems in SA use water to produce harvestable biomass. Its purpose is to better inform resource allocations. Key findings are that: introduced plantations are more efficient…

 Highlights: ► Afforestation in South African catchments is limited due to water scarcity. ► A challenge is to increase production within water-resource constraints. ► Biophysical and economic measures of water-use efficiency (WUE) were tested. ► Biophysical WUE was higher for introduced tree species due to fast growth rates. ► Indigenous species had good economic WUE due to high output prices.