You need to read the csiro media release first and then read Peter's response.
This is a copy of Peter Andrews response.
To: Tanya Doody Tanya.Doody@csiro.au
I read with interest the results of your recently published work on willow removal.
I notice that the focus of the work was monospecific....looking at the volumes of water taken out of the river flows by willows.
I also note, that this research was funded jointly by the Commonwealth and State Governments of NSW and Victoria....as they have a direct policy influence via the WONS Legislation and the huge multi-million dollar taxpayer funding program for willow removal.
For historical context, this recent work is simply a repeat of the work done years earlier by Kurt Kremer of CSIRO, which was, as I understand it, the basis for the present eradication program. It to, was narrowly focused reductionism. It would seem to me that the present research is simply an approach to willows information in order to feed the Government's policy that their removal is having a cost benefit to the community and the environment.
I contend that this is totally false, misleading and erroneous misinformation, not to mention poor science.
I also notice, that in this article you conclude by saying “However, if the net overall benefit of willow removal from creeks and streams is to be properly evaluated, the various other benefits and disadvantages of removal must also be understood and included in decision making,”
Where is the research CSIRO are doing into this part of the equation?? Clearly, it is lacking, or if it is there, it is NOT being bought forward because it doesn't fit the funding criteria, which is for their removal.
Here is just a little intro to balance this debate with some scientifically validated benefits:
Willows are the worlds top riparian plants. And there is a massive amount of data to support that statement.
As a starting point...... Water, matter and energy are the three basic requirements for any ecosystem to thrive.
Studies of natural processes in a central European virgin forest have brought us an understanding of how nature closes the cycles of water and matter and evenly dissipates the incoming solar energy that runs processes. (Ripl)
As a result, climatic events, such as precipitation, runoff and temperature, are evenly distributed in time and irreversible matter losses remain low. By minimising matter losses nature prolongs its life-span, i.e. enhancing its sustainability.
When compared to agricultural landscapes, we can reveal the main mistakes of human interference with natural processes that lead to the opening of cycles, bringing about high irreversible matter losses.
Investigations have shown that areal matter losses measured in agricultural catchments in Europe and Australia (see Dr Michael Wilson's work) are some 50–100 times higher than those from unmanaged land in a virgin forest. As matter losses are mainly connected to water run off, every disturbance to the hydrological regime has a vital impact on landscape sustainability.
Extensive drainage, including that of wetlands and transformation of rivers into drainage channels, has such a negative impact.
Humans have greatly modified the natural forms of most large rivers – constraining them into straightened river channels and cutting them off from their floodplains by impoundments. The lowering of the groundwater table and the drainage of a large number of wetlands has led to a serious impoverishment of the landscape with respect to surface water bodies and water-saturated soils. Whilst the restoration of individual wetland sites has been attempted for more than 40 years now, there are hardly any restored wetland sites that would be sustainable in the long term without further intervention – because of the negative impacts caused by unsustainable land use within their catchments. Willow removal being a major one.
This information brings forward the argument that for greater landscape sustainability it is essential to restore and return more wetlands plant systems (inc willows) as well as natural vegetation cover, to the landscape to restore natural dynamics to rivers and streams.
The following criteria should be used to assess the sustainability of willows:
- It's potential for solar energy dissipation
and water and matter recycling within the smallest delimited area, such as a catchment or sub-catchment.
A greater understanding of the ecological values associated with retention of materials, energy and nutrients in streams would compliment hydrological studies found in natural sequence systems and help shift public policy and perceptions away from simplistic approaches to willows management.
I believe, this recent work has simply been too narrowly focused to fit the Governments funding regime and fails in its duty of care as good, science to look more holistically at the larger picture.
A few of the Willows positive effects include:
[*]modifying diurnal temperature via evapotranspiration....and absorbing radiant heat. 1 Willow is equivalent to 28 reverse cycle air conditioners
[*]reduce evaporation by shading the river
[*]reduced evapotranspiration because they are deciduous for 3-5 months
[*]prevent water losses to the system by slowing velocities and preventing both stream banks and instream erosion.
[*]willows replicate the role once played by reed bed wetlands and mimic and perform a similar role re-instating landscape function
[*]increased the fertility of the wetland system by capturing and storing Carbon, the leaf litter is nor toxic to native fish like some native species (red river gums)
[*]retaining sediment in the system
[*]retaining organic matter in the system
[*]refugia for fish, platypus, crustaceans etc
[*]filtering water and thereby
improving water quality
[*]acting as primary colonisers to stabilize and secure the stream bed and banks for the secondary colonisers....mainly natives inc Casuarinas etc.
[*]recycling the daily water cycle and preventing water losses from the system (the opposite to what your research shows)
[*]“However, if the net overall benefit of willow removal from creeks and streams is to be properly evaluated, the various other benefits and disadvantages of removal must also be understood and included in decision making,”
By removing willows we are causing the disruption of all of the above positive benefits.
CSIRO could have potentially 50 years of research here looking at ALL of the above positive examples BUT where would they get the funding from??
Certainly not from the Commonwealth and State Governments of NSW and Victoria. So it seems best to continue to focus on the negative to ensure funding supply. What other conclusion is there??
Governments fund research with public monies to produce an outcome for the public good. However, this willow trough is so big and so full of money, that many have their heads well in the trough, including CSIRO and the Willows Task Force.
The present flooding across much of the eastern half of the country is causing enormous losses of water, sediment, nutrient and organic matter losses to the sea. We are losing our national assets and our environmental capital in the billions everyday. Willows would help us to retain that. Surely, as a EcoHydrologist it is important to see and present, the bigger picture.
I have been in touch with the Federal Department overseeing this willow legislation, to try and get some balance into the whole willows debate, in order to show "if the net overall benefit of willow removal from creeks and streams is to be properly evaluated, the various other benefits and disadvantages of removal must also be understood and included in decision making".
Your help and assistance to achieve this objective, scientific outcome would be most welcomed.
I have been trying to bring this important information, based on the best science available and to bring it to the people of this country for over 30 years. I would welcome the opportunity to work together, bringing the best scientists with the best information to the table. I would hope that we could do this under a banner of honesty, integrity and co-operation.