Dymond, J.R., Ausseil, A-G., Ekanayake, J., Kirschbaum, M.U.F. (2012). Tradeoffs between soil, water, and carbon – a national scale analysis from New Zealand. Journal of Environmental Management 95: 124-131.


Abstract. The tradeoffs between the regulation of soil erosion, provision of fresh water, and climate regulation associated with new P.radiata forests in New Zealand are explored using national models. These three ecosystem services for which there is strong demand are monetised as commodities (avoided soil erosion is NZ$ 1 per tonne; water is NZ$ 1 per cubic metre; and sequestered carbon is assumed to be NZ$ 73 per tonne). This permits their summation on a spatial basis to produce a national map of the net benefit of these ecosystem services. Net benefit is spatially variable depending primarily on the relative mix of forest growth rates and demand for irrigation water. New P. radiata forests (once mature) generally reduce mass-movement erosion by an order of magnitude. This provides significant benefits for erosion control where there are high natural rates of erosion. Benefits are especially large in catchments where high sedimentation is increasing flood risk and degrading aquatic ecosystems. The generally high growth rates of P. radiata in New Zealand (8.5 tonnes C ha-1 yr-1 on average for existing forest) add significant environmental benefits of carbon sinks to climate regulation. However, the reduction of water yield associated with new forests (between 30% and 50%) can neutralise these benefits in catchments where there is demand for irrigation water, such as the eastern foothills of the Southern Alps and the tussock grasslands in the South Island.

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