Harvesting in Catchments
The Department of Sustainability and Environment is conducting a project that will provide information for the Government to develop a future management plan for the State forests that supply water to Melbourne. It’s called the ‘Harvesting in Water Catchments’ study — sometimes referred to more simply as the ‘Wood and Water’ study.
The four-year project commenced in late 2004 to fulfil the Victorian Government’s Water White Paper commitment to investigate the impact of timber harvesting on water yield within Melbourne’s catchments. The technical studies of the project were completed in October 2008.
Wood & Water Project
The Victorian Government's White Paper, Securing Our Water Future Together identified Action 2.21 that will:
- "Undertake hydrological studies on the impact of logging on water yield of catchments in State forests supplying water to Melbourne;
- Develop options aimed at improving the water yield, including potential changes to management practices and phasing out logging in these areas;
- Assess the feasibility of establishing plantations outside State forests to offset any reductions in timber availability. This will be informed by the results of modelling and mapping work on high, medium and low hydrologic impact zones for plantations; and
- Investigate the economic, social and environmental benefits and costs of these options.
- Once they have been completed the Government will report on the findings of these studies and begin consultation with the timber industry, the community and other stakeholders to develop a long term plan that will improve water yield outcomes for Melbourne's catchments, while continuing to meet timber supply commitments."
This project is being undertaken because there has been a long history of debate about the relative costs and benefits of wood production and water supply from the State forests supplying water to Melbourne.
Timber harvesting in these water catchments provides economic benefit to regional Victoria in particular. However, timber harvesting impacts on the available water yield due to the water requirements of young, regenerating forests.