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

  • Barbara Ann StewartEmail author


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 


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. Allan, J. D. (2004). Landscapes and riverscapes: The influence of land use on stream ecosystems. Annual Review of Ecology and Evolutionary Systematics, 35, 257–284.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Angradi, T. R. (1999). Fine sediment and macroinvertebrate assemblages in Appalachian streams: A field experiment with biomonitoring applications. Journal of the North American Benthological Society, 18, 49–66.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Braccia, A., & Voshell, J. R., Jr. (2007). Benthic macroinvertebrate responses to increasing levels of cattle grazing in Blue Ridge Mountain Streams, Virginia, USA. Environmental Monitoring and Assessment, 131, 185–200.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Bunn, S. E., & Davies, P. M. (2000). Biological processes in running waters and their implications for the assessment of ecological integrity. Hydrobiologia, 422/423, 61–70.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Campbell, I. C., & Doeg, T. J. (1989). Impact of timber harvesting and production on streams: A review. Australian Journal of Marine and Freshwater Research, 40, 519–539.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Clarke, K. R. (1993). Non-parametric multivariate analyses of changes in community structure. Australian Journal of Ecology, 18, 117–143.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Clarke, K. R., & Gorley, R. N. (2001). PRIMER v5: User manual/tutorial. Plymouth: PRIMER-E Ltd., Plymouth Marine Laboratory.Google Scholar
  8. Clarke, K. R., & Warwick, R. M. (2004). Change in marine communities: An approach to statistical analysis and interpretation. UK: Primer-E Ltd, Plymouth Marine Laboratory.Google Scholar
  9. Collier, K. J., Wilcock, R. J., & Meredith, A. S. (1998). Influence of substrate type and physico-chemical conditions on macroinvertebrate faunas and biotic indices of some lowland, Waikato, New Zealand, streams. New Zealand Journal of Marine and Freshwater Research, 32, 1–19.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Connell, J. H. (1978). Diversity in tropical rain forests and coral reefs. Science, 199, 1302–1310.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Delong, M. D., & Brusven, M. A. (1998). Macroinvertebrate community structure along the longitudinal gradient of an agriculturally impacted stream. Environmental Management, 22, 445–457.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Ensign, S. H., & Mallin, M. A. (2001). Stream water quality changes following timber harvest in a coastal plain swamp forest. Water Research, 35, 3381–3390.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Halse, S., Scanlon, M., & Cocking, J. (2000). Marbelup Brook water quality study: October 2000. Department of Conservation and Land Management, Wanneroo, Western Australia.Google Scholar
  14. Jansen, A., & Robertson, A. I. (2001). Relationships between livestock management and the ecological condition of riparian habitats along an Australian floodplain river. Journal of Applied Ecology, 38, 63–75.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Jenkin, B. M., & Tomkins, B. (2006). The use of chemical pesticides by the Australian plantation forest industry (183pp). Report prepared for Forest & Wood Products Research & Development Corporation, Canberra.Google Scholar
  16. Karr, J. R. (1999). Defining and measuring river health. Freshwater Biology, 41, 221–234.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Lenat, D. R. (1988). Water quality assessment of streams using a qualitative collection method for benthic macroinvertebrates. Journal of the North American Benthological Society, 7, 222–233.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Lenat, D. R. (1993). A biotic index for the southeastern Unites States: Derivation and list of tolerance values for assigning water-quality ratings. Journal of the North American Benthological Society, 12, 279–290.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Leighton, S. (2003). Case study 7: Integrated tree cropping’s commercial plantations in south-west Western Australia. In D. Race & D. Freudenberger (Eds.), Farm forestry for green and gold: Australian experiences of linking biodiversity to commercial forestry. Australian Government, Department of the Environment and Heritage.Google Scholar
  20. Martel, N., Rodrigues, M. A., & Berube, P. (2007). Multi-scale analysis of responses of stream macrobenthos to forestry activities and environmental context. Freshwater Biology, 52, 85–97.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Martin, T. G., & McIntyre, S. (2007). Impacts of livestock grazing and tree clearing on birds of woodland and riparian habitats. Conservation Biology, 21, 504–514.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Martin, C. W., Hornbeck, J. W., Likens, G. E., & Buso, D. C. (2000). Impacts of intensive harvesting on hydrology and nutrient dynamics of northern hardwood forests. Canadian Journal of Fisheries and Aquatic Science, 57, 19–29.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. McCord, S. B., Guha, G. S., & Grippo, R. S. (2007). Effects of subsample size on seasonal and spatial comparisons of stream macroinvertebrate communities. Environmental Monitoring and Assessment, 135, 409–422.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Nerbonne, B. A., & Vondracek, B. (2001). Effects of local land use on physical habitat, benthic macroinvertebrates, and fish in the Whitewater River, Minnesota, USA. Environmental Management, 28, 87–99.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Quinn, J. M., & Hickey, C. W. (1990). Magnitude of effects of substrate particle size, recent flooding, and catchment development on benthic invertebrates in 88 New Zealand rivers. New Zealand Journal of Marine and Freshwater Research, 24, 411–427.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Scrimgeour, G. J., & Kendall, S. (2003). Effects of livestock grazing on benthic invertebrates from a native grassland ecosystem. Freshwater Biology, 48, 347–362.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Vaidya, O. C., Smith, T. P., Fernand, H., & McInnis Leek, N. R. (2008). Forestry best management practices: evaluation of alternative streamside management zones on stream water quality in Pockwock Lake and Five Mile Lake Watersheds in Central Nova Scotia, Canada. Environmental Monitoring and Assessment, 137, 1–14.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Vannote, R. L., Minshall, W. G., Cummins, K. W., Sedell, J. R., & Cushing, C. E. (1980). The river continuum concept. Canadian Journal of Fisheries and Aquatic Science, 37, 130–137.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Vowell, J. L. (2001). Using stream bioassessment to monitor best management practice effectiveness. Forest Ecology and Management, 143, 237–244.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Wallace, J. B., Grubaugh, J. W., & Whiles, M. R. (1996). Biotic indices and stream ecosystem processes: Results from an experimental study. Ecological Applications, 6, 140–151.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. Williams, L. R., Taylor, C. M., Warren, M. L., Jr., & Clingenpeel, J. A. (2002). Large-scale effects of timber harvesting on stream systems in the Ouachita Mountains, Arkansas, USA. Environmental Management, 29, 76–87.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2010

Authors and Affiliations

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

Personalised recommendations