Advertisement

Regional Environmental Change

, Volume 10, Issue 2, pp 103–117 | Cite as

Forest plantations, water availability, and regional climate change: controversies surrounding Acacia mearnsii plantations in the upper Palnis Hills, southern India

  • Haripriya Rangan
  • Christian A. Kull
  • Lisa Alexander
Original Article

Abstract

Plantation forests not only impact carbon and water cycles, but also affect biodiversity, livelihoods, and shape regional economies. Each of these impacts differs across varying scales of analysis. This paper illustrates how forest, climate change and hydrology debates play out in the context of the forest plantations of Australian black wattle (Acacia mearnsii) in the upper Palni hills of southern India. We outline the contradictory perspectives of different local groups regarding the impact of plantations on catchment hydrology and water availability, and examine these in relation to changes in the regional economy and rainfall patterns. Our analysis indicates that changes in these two factors have played a more significant role than existing wattle plantations in affecting local and regional water availability. We suggest that ongoing debates regarding forest plantation–hydrology–climate change relationships need to broaden their scope to include changes in regional rainfall patterns and shifts in regional economic activity. This approach is likely to provide a more realistic assessment of plantation forests in a dynamic regional context, and offer more resilient strategies for regional landscape and catchment management under conditions of high variability in rainfall patterns.

Keywords

Plantation forests Social perspectives and debates Kodaikanal (Tamil Nadu, India) Acacia mearnsii Catchment hydrology Regional climate change 

Notes

Acknowledgments

This research was funded by the Australian Research Council (DP 0666131). The authors are grateful to Mr. Sakthivelu of the Bryant Park Botanical Gardens in Kodaikanal, Ms. Girija Viraraghavan, M.S. Viraraghavan, Mr. Antony, and other members of the Palni Hills Conservation Council; Bob Stewart and Tanya Balcar of the Vattakanal Conservation Trust; the District Forest Officer, Kodaikanal Division; the leather goods manufacturers in Chennai; and respondents from Kodaikanal, Poombarai, Mannavanur, Kavunji, Kookal, Poondi, and Polur for useful insights and information. We also thank Phil Scamp for cartographic assistance and Craig Thorburn and two anonymous reviewers for their constructive comments on previous drafts.

References

  1. Agrawal A, Chhatre A, Hardin R (2008) Changing governance of the world’s forests. Science 320:1460–1462CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Binggeli P (2001) The human dimensions of invasive woody plants. In: McNeely JA (ed) The great reshuffling: human dimensions of invasive alien species. IUCN, Gland, pp 145–159Google Scholar
  3. Binns JA, Illgner PM, Nel EL (2001) Water shortage, deforestation and development: South Africa’s working for water programme. Land Degrad Dev 12:341–355CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Blasco F (1970) Aspects of the flora, ecology and savannas of the South Indian hills. J Bombay Nat Hist Soc 67:522–534Google Scholar
  5. Bonan GB (2008) Forests and climate change: forcings, feedbacks, and the climate benefits of forests. Science 320:1444–1449CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Bosch JM, Hewlett JD (1982) A review of catchment experiments to determine the effect of vegetation changes on water yield and evapotranspiration. J Hydrol 55:3–23CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Bradshaw CJA, Sodhi NS, Peh KSH, Brook BW (2007) Global evidence that deforestation amplifies flood risk and severity in the developing world. Glob Chang Biol 13:2379–2395CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Brockerhoff E, Jactel H, Parrotta J, Quine C, Sayer J (2008) Plantation forests and biodiversity: oxymoron or opportunity? Biodivers Conserv 17:925–951CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Bruijnzeel LA (2004) Hydrological functions of tropical forests: not seeing the soil for the trees? Agric Ecosyst Environ 104:185–228CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Buytaert W, Iñiguez V, De Bièvre B (2007) The effects of afforestation and cultivation on water yield in the Andean páramo. For Ecol Manag 251:22–30CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Calder IR (2002) Forests and hydrological services: reconciling public and science perceptions. Land Use Water Resour Res 2:1–12Google Scholar
  12. Calder IR (2007) Forests and water—ensuring forest benefits outweigh water costs. For Ecol Manag 251:110–120CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Calder IR, Dye P (2001) Hydrological impacts of alien invasive plants. Land Use Water Resour Res 1:1–12Google Scholar
  14. Calder IR, Swaminath MH, Kariyappa GS, Srinivasalu NV, Srinivasa Murty KV, Mumtaz J (1992) Deuterium tracing for the estimation of transpiration from trees. Part 3. Measurements of transpiration from Eucalyptus plantation, India. J Hydrol 130:37–48CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Canadell JG, Raupach MR (2008) Managing forests for climate change mitigation. Science 320:1456–1457CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Chang M (2006) Forest hydrology, vol 2. CRC Press, Boca RatonGoogle Scholar
  17. Chazdon RL (2008) Beyond deforestation: restoring forests and ecosystem services on degraded lands. Science 320:1458–1460CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Davis DK (2007) Resurrecting the granary of Rome: environmental history and French colonial expansion in North Africa. Ohio University Press, AthensGoogle Scholar
  19. de Wit MP, Crookes DJ, van Wilgen BW (2001) Conflicts of interest in environmental management: estimating the costs and benefits of tree invasions. Biol Invasions 3:167–178CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Dye PJ (1996) Climate, forest and streamflow relationships in South African afforested catchments. Commonw For Rev 75:31–38Google Scholar
  21. Dye P, Jarmain P (2004) Water use by black wattle (Acacia mearnsii): implications for the link between removal of invading trees and catchment streamflow response. S Afr J Sci 100:40–44Google Scholar
  22. FAO (2007) State of the world’s forests. FAO, RomeGoogle Scholar
  23. FAO (2008) Forests and energy. Forestry paper 154, FAO, RomeGoogle Scholar
  24. FAO, CIFOR (2005) Forests and floods: drowning in fiction or thriving on facts? FAO and CIFOR, Bogor and Bangkok RAP publication 2005/03 forest perspectives 2Google Scholar
  25. Farley KA (2007) Grasslands to tree plantations: forest transition in the Andes of Ecuador. Ann Assoc Am Geogr 97:755–771CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Fontanel J (1980) Kongunad–Palni: landscapes and land-use (sheet 58F at 1:250,000). Institut Français de Pondichéry, PondicherryGoogle Scholar
  27. Forsyth T, Walker A (2008) Forest guardians, forest destroyers: the politics of environmental knowledge in northern Thailand. University of Washington Press, SeattleGoogle Scholar
  28. García-Quijano JF, Peters J, Cockx L, van Wyk G, Rosanov A, Deckmyn G, Ceulemans R, Ward SM, Holden NM, Van Orshoven J, Muys B (2007) Carbon sequestration and environmental effects of afforestation with Pinus radiata D. Don in the Western Cape, South Africa. Clim Change 83:323–355CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Gopalakrishnan M (ed) (1995) Gazetteers of India, Tamil Nadu State: the Nilgiris district. Director of Stationery and Printing, MadrasGoogle Scholar
  30. Goswami BN, Venugopal V, Sengupta D, Madhusoodanan MS, Xavier PK (2006) Increasing trend of extreme rain events over India in a warming environment. Science 314:1442–1445CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. Government of Tamil Nadu (2001) Dindigul district census, 2001. http://www.dindigul.tn.nic.in/Census.htm, accessed 10th June 2008
  32. Government of Tamil Nadu (2007) Tourism statistics In: Statistical handbook 2007. Department of Economics and Statistics, ChennaiGoogle Scholar
  33. Grove R (1995) Green imperialism: colonial expansion, tropical Island Edens, and the origins of environmentalism, 1600–1860. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge and New YorkGoogle Scholar
  34. Hobbs RJ, Arico S, Aronson J, Baron JS, Bridgewater P, Cramer VA, Epstein PR, Ewel JJ, Klink CA, Lugo AE, Norton D, Ojima D, Richardson DM, Sanderson EW, Valladares F, Vilà M, Zamora R, Zobel M (2006) Novel ecosystems: theoretical and management aspects of the new ecological world order. Glob Ecol Biogeogr 15:1–7CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. Jackson RB, Jobbagy EG, Avissar R, Roy SB, Barrett DJ, Cook CW, Farley KA, le Maitre DC, McCarl BA, Murray BC (2005) Trading water for carbon with biological carbon sequestration. Science 310:1944–1947CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. Kendall MG (1975) Rank correlation methods. Griffin, LondonGoogle Scholar
  37. Kohlmaier GH, Weber M, Houghton RA (1998) Carbon dioxide mitigation in forestry and wood industry. Springer, BerlinGoogle Scholar
  38. le Maitre DC, Versfeld DB, Chapman RA (2000) The impact of invading alien plants on surface water resources in South Africa: a preliminary assessment. Water SA 26:397–408Google Scholar
  39. le Maitre DC, van Wilgen BW, Gelderblom CM, Bailey C, Chapman RA, Nel JA (2002) Invasive alien trees and water resources in South Africa: case studies of the costs and benefits of management. For Ecol Manag 160:143–159CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  40. Licata JA, Gyenge JE, Fernandez ME, Schlichter TM, Bond BJ (2008) Increased water use by ponderosa pine plantations in northwestern Patagonia, Argentina compared with native forest vegetation. For Ecol Manag 255:753–764CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  41. Mann HB (1945) Nonparametric trends against test. Econometrica 13:245–259CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  42. Marsh GP (1864) Man and nature, or physical geography as modified by human action. Belknap Press, CambridgeGoogle Scholar
  43. Mathews AS (2009) Unlikely alliances: encounters between state science, nature spirits, and indigenous industrial forestry in Mexico, 1926–2008. Curr Anthropol 50:75–101CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  44. Matthew KM (1969) The exotic flora of Kodaikanal, Palni hills. Rec Bot Surv India 20:1–241Google Scholar
  45. Matthew KM (1988) Biological changes at Kodaikanal, 1949–1974 (partly updated to 1987). In: Proceedings of the conference on conservation and ecological management of the Western Ghats through land-use planning. Palni Hills Conservation Council, Kodaikanal, pp 47–48Google Scholar
  46. Matthew KM, Blasco F, Ignacimuthu S (1975) Biological changes at Kodaikanal, 1949–1975. Trop Ecol 16:147–162Google Scholar
  47. Meher-Homji VM (1988a) Effects of forests on precipitation in India. In: Reynolds E, Thompson F (eds) Forests, climate and hydrology: regional impacts. United Nations University, TokyoGoogle Scholar
  48. Meher-Homji VM (1988b) The Palni hills: climate and vegetation. In: Proceedings of the conference on conservation and ecological management of the Western Ghats through land-use planning. Palni Hills Conservation Council, Kodaikanal, pp 39–42Google Scholar
  49. Mitchell N (1972) The Indian hill-station: Kodaikanal. University of Chicago Press, Chicago University of Chicago, Department of Geography, research paper no. 141Google Scholar
  50. Nabuurs GJ, Masera O, Andrasko K, Benitez-Ponce P, Boer R, Dutschke M, Elsiddig E, Ford-Robertson J, Frumhoff P, Karjalainen T, Krankina O, Kurz WA, Matsumoto M, Oyhantcabal W, Ravindranath NH, Sanz Sanchez MJ, Zhang X (2007) Forestry. In: Metz B, Davidson OR, Bosch PR, Dave R, Meyer LA (eds) Climate change: mitigation. Contribution of working group III to the fourth assessment report of the intergovernmental panel on climate change. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, pp 541–584Google Scholar
  51. National Atlas Thematic Mapping Organisation (NATMO) (2000) District planning map series: Dindigul, Tamil Nadu (1:250,000). Survey of India, KolkataGoogle Scholar
  52. Palni Hills Conservation Council (PHCC) (2007) 22nd Annual report, 2006–2007. PHCC, KodaikanalGoogle Scholar
  53. Peluso N (1992) Rich forests, poor people. University of California Press, BerkeleyGoogle Scholar
  54. Rajeevan M, Bhate J, Jaswal AK (2008) Analysis of variability and trends of extreme rainfall events over India using 104 years of gridded daily rainfall data. Geophys Res Let 35:L18707. doi: 10.1029/2008GL035143 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  55. Ramesh BR, de Francheschi D, Pascal J-P (2002) Forest map of South India: Coimbatore–Thrissur (sheet 5 at 1:250,000). Institut Français de Pondichéry and Kerala and Tamil Nadu Forest Departments, PondicherryGoogle Scholar
  56. Rangan H (2000) Of myths and movements: rewriting chipko into Himalayan history. Verso Press, LondonGoogle Scholar
  57. Reynolds E, Thompson F (eds) (1988) Forests, climate and hydrology: regional impacts. United Nations University, TokyoGoogle Scholar
  58. Ribbentrop B (1900) Forestry in British India. Government Press, CalcuttaGoogle Scholar
  59. Richardson DM, van Wilgen BW (2004) Invasive alien plants in South Africa: how well do we understand the ecological impacts. S Afr J Sci 100:45–52Google Scholar
  60. Robbins P (2006) Carbon colonies: from local use value to global exchange in climate forestry. In: Raju S, Satish Kumar S, Corbridge S (eds) Colonial and postcolonial geographies of India. Sage, New Delhi, pp 279–297Google Scholar
  61. Roy S (2009) A spatial analysis of extreme hourly precipitation patterns in India. Int J Clim 29:345–355CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  62. Scott DF (2005) On the hydrology of industrial timber plantations. Hydrol Process 19:4203–4206CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  63. Scott DF, Lesch W (1997) Streamflow responses to afforestation with Eucalyptus grandis and Pinus patula and to felling in the Mokobulaan experimental catchments, Mpumalanga Province, South Africa. J Hydrol 199:360–377CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  64. Sherry SP (1971) The black wattle (Acacia mearnsii De Wild.). University of Natal Press, PietermaritzburgGoogle Scholar
  65. Sivaramakrishnan K (1999) Modern forests: statemaking and environmental change in colonial Eastern India. Stanford University Press, StanfordGoogle Scholar
  66. Srivastava RK (1995) Wattle helping in improve ecosystem and genetic condition. Forest notes and observations. Indian For 121:325Google Scholar
  67. Stebbing EP (1935) The encroaching Sahara: the threat to the West African colonies. Geogr J 85:506–524CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  68. Stewart B, Balcar T (2008) Overview of S. African studies of invasive species and water consumption, unpublished notesGoogle Scholar
  69. Survey of India (1973–2004) Topographic map sheets 58F 7-12. Map Publication Office, Dehra DunGoogle Scholar
  70. Survey of India (1977) Kodaikanal guide map, 1st edn. Survey of India Printing Group, Dehra DunGoogle Scholar
  71. Swift J (1996) Desertification: narratives, winners and losers. In: Leach M, Mearns R (eds) The lie of the land. James Currey, Oxford, pp 73–90Google Scholar
  72. van Dijk AIJM, Keenan RJ (2007) Planted forests and water in perspective. For Ecol Manag 251:1–9CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  73. Viraraghavan MS (1988) The Palni hills—a situation report. In: Proceedings of the conference on conservation and ecological management of the western ghats through land-use planning. Palni Hills Conservation Council, Kodaikanal, pp 28–34Google Scholar
  74. WRM—World Rainforest Movement (2003) Plantations are not forests. WRM, MontevideoGoogle Scholar
  75. Zheng H, Ouyang Z, Xu W, Wang X, Miao H, Li X, Tian Y (2008) Variation of carbon storage by different reforestation types in the hilly red soil region of southern China. For Ecol Manag 255:1113–1121CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  • Haripriya Rangan
    • 1
  • Christian A. Kull
    • 1
  • Lisa Alexander
    • 1
    • 2
  1. 1.School of Geography and Environmental ScienceMonash UniversityMelbourneAustralia
  2. 2.Climate Change Research CentreUniversity of New South WalesSydneyAustralia

Personalised recommendations