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International Journal of Forestry Research
Volume 2013, Article ID 852540, 11 pages
http://dx.doi.org/10.1155/2013/852540
Review Article

Eucalyptus and Water Use in South Africa

1Department of Forestry and Environmental Resources, North Carolina State University, P.O. Box 8008, Raleigh, NC 27695-8008, USA
2School of Animal, Plant and Environmental Sciences, University of the Witwatersrand, Private Bag 3, Johannesburg 2050, South Africa

Received 15 June 2012; Accepted 5 February 2013

Academic Editor: John Stanturf

Copyright © 2013 Janine M. Albaugh et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

Abstract

The Eucalyptus genus yields high rates of productivity and can be grown across a wide range of site types and climates for products such as pulp, fuelwood, or construction lumber. In addition, many eucalypts have the ability to coppice, making this genus an ideal candidate for use as a biofuel feedstock. However, the water use of Eucalyptus is a controversial issue, and the impacts of these fast-growing trees on water resources are well documented. Regardless, the demand for wood products and water continues to rise, providing a challenge to increase the productivity of forest plantations within water constraints. This is of particular relevance for water-limited countries such as South Africa which relies on exotic plantations to meet its timber needs. Research results from water use studies in South Africa are well documented and legislation restrictions limit further afforestation. This paper outlines techniques used to quantify the water use of eucalypt plantations and provides recommendations on where to focus future research efforts. Greater insights into the water use efficiency of clonal material are needed, as certain eucalypt clones show fast growth and low water use. To better understand water use efficiency, estimates should be combined with monitoring of stand canopy structure and measurements of physiological processes.