Environmental Monitoring and Assessment

, Volume 173, Issue 1–4, pp 941–953 | Cite as

An assessment of the impacts of timber plantations on water quality and biodiversity values of Marbellup Brook, Western Australia



Despite the fact that the establishment and maintenance of blue gum plantations can potentially result in the removal of riparian vegetation, the presence of increased levels of sediments, pesticides, and nutrients, and consequently, the loss of in-stream biodiversity, few studies exist that have looked at the impacts of timber plantations on in-stream biota. The goals of this study were thus to determine water quality, riparian condition, and in-stream biodiversity values of local streams draining blue gum plantations in the Marbellup Brook catchment in Western Australia and to compare these values with those of streams associated with other land uses. Selected water quality and habitat variables and in-stream macroinvertebrate biodiversity were measured in 2006 and 2007 at 28 sites falling into five broad categories based on the predominant land use within 200 m of each study reach. Overall, the results indicated that “blue gum plantation” sites often had better water quality, riparian condition, and biodiversity values than “pasture unfenced,” and sometimes “pasture fenced” sites, but water quality and biodiversity values at these sites were not as good as those associated with “remnant” native vegetation sites. The location of the blue gum plantation sites along the disturbance gradient investigated was attributed to both present management and past land uses in the subcatchments investigated. As this study was conducted at a time when blue gum plantations were in an on-growing phase, it was recommended that future research on the impact of blue gum plantations on waterways in southwestern Australia should include an investigation of the impacts of timber clear-cutting and extraction. Longer-term cumulative and downstream effects of blue gum plantations on local waterways also need to be investigated.


Monitoring Blue gum plantations River health Water quality Biodiversity Riparian condition 


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Centre of Excellence in Natural Resource ManagementUniversity of Western AustraliaAlbanyAustralia

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