Removing willow for water

Discussion in 'Planting, growing, nurturing Plants' started by Michaelangelica, Dec 2, 2010.

  1. andrew curr

    andrew curr Moderator

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    willows do produce hollows

    after about 40 years native critters do use them
    eg. i have wood ducks rufus night herons etc in willows
     
  2. duanejen

    duanejen Junior Member

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    This is a copy of correspondence sent to Tanya Doody of CSIRO by Peter Andrews last Friday.


    Water savings from willow removal (Media Release) (https://www.csiro.au/news/Water-savings-from-willow-removal.html)

    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 $ funding program for willow removal.

    For historical context, this recent work is simply a repeat of the work done years earlier by Dr 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. [Australia and NZ are the only paranoid countries in the World to declare willows weed pests.]

    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. (Ripl)

    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. (Ripl) 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:
    *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.

    Just 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 (Pokorny)
    *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
    *removing fertilizer excesses thereby preventing blue green algal blooming
    *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)
    etc etc
    “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.

    P.S.
    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.



    Peter Andrews

    I will try and post Dr Michael Wilsons paper and Prof W Ripls paper and Dr Jan Pokornys paper which were added as attachments.
     
  3. andrew curr

    andrew curr Moderator

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    thanks duane

    we are on your side!
    give pete a big hug 4 me
    peace on
     
  4. JimA

    JimA Junior Member

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    Source of the blackguards

    The culminating author of ‘Willow Management: a strategy for the Upper Murrumbidgee Catchment’ (, dismissing NSF in a single paragraph) admitted (pers.comm.) that the rogue species were imported by ‘Authorities’ relatively recently; both genders, thereby henceforth proliferated by seed – another brilliant ‘Cane-toad solution’.
     
  5. andrew curr

    andrew curr Moderator

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    somthing defoliated(rapidly) all the weeping willows here last year the golden variety or hybreds wernt as affected
    i assumed it was grasshoppers which were in abundence however i didnt see massive numbers on the trees
    will keep an eye out for other vectors such as sawfly
     
  6. Michaelangelica

    Michaelangelica Junior Member

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  7. teela

    teela Junior Member

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    This debate has been going on for a while........it makes me angry. One of their reasons for the removal of Willows was they are not native and not good habitat for wild life...........CRAP!!!! We spent 14 years living near the river Murray. We spent many weekends canoeing on the Murray and it's backwaters. We'd always admired the Willow trees and noticed the amount of wildlife that live in and under them. Their deep shade makes them almost cave like and many insects and lizards enjoy the deep dark shade on a hot day. Under the surface their interwoven roots provide safe habitat for many fish and river creatures.
    Those who like to protest the Willows should spend more time on the river and less in the office!
     
  8. ecodharmamark

    ecodharmamark Junior Member

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  9. andrew curr

    andrew curr Moderator

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    We should hold a competition for the dumbest landcare project

    Removing willows in ACT (onley 10 - 20% of budget: what is that budget)
    ------------------------I bet 100 dollars the best soils in the ACT are under those blackberries???????????


    Removing robinias south of Tamworth!!!!
    Removing honey Locust around Glen Innes!!!
     
  10. andrew curr

    andrew curr Moderator

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    I have probably the best colony of rufus night herons in new england (i dont know of another one),they live in mature salix babelonica
     
  11. matto

    matto Junior Member

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  12. pebble

    pebble Junior Member

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    Location:
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    Wow, just wow. Incredibly discussion. I wanted to alternately cheer and then bang their heads together. A very good example of why nativists and permies are both right and wrong, and that we need to get past the false dichotomy.
     
  13. eco4560

    eco4560 New Member

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    I felt the same way Pebble. Toby wrote very well. Plants are plants, people are people. We are all more alike than we are different.
     
  14. ecodharmamark

    ecodharmamark Junior Member

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    The simple fact of the matter is, 7-plus billion people cannot live on 'native' (endemic) species alone. Which means that we either accept 'introduced' species - which, incidentally, make up by far the majority of the world's staple food base - as the 'new' native, or we undertake a massive cull of the world's human population. As Holmgren said (Bendigo PDC, 2005): "We can never get rid of all weed species; the best thing we can ever hope to do is encourage a better class of weed". And if we include ourselves as the most invasive weed species on the planet, then I guess Holmgren's edict works for us, too.
     
  15. matto

    matto Junior Member

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    I thought the crux of the nativists debate was that these plants may escape into wilderness areas, not so much what happens on farms itself.

    I have heard that Cootamundra wattle has been known to cross with A. dealbata, and in doing so, creates a seed that cannot be cracked by the native Sugar Glider in Victoria. This was pointed out to me while talking about David Holmgrens work, and how they weren't pleased with this. I think David has changed his mind on a few things at Melliodora over the last 20 years, not sure what he would make of this though.
     
  16. pebble

    pebble Junior Member

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    Marko, the discussion was more nuanced than that IMO. When some permies say "weeds are here to stay", it comes across as "native ecosystems no longer matter". I don't think many permies actually believe that, but the nature of the debate at this point is that it gets stuck in "weeds are here to stay" vs "weeds endanger native ecosystems". We really need to get past that opposition.
     
  17. ecodharmamark

    ecodharmamark Junior Member

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    True, matto, that seems to be one major point in the debate, and it would seem not without at least some justification. For example: A permie plants blackberry on a said farm, and all goes reasonably well for the first couple of seasons. Said blackberry appears to remain in its intended place of growth. However, in the third season, said permie misses the peak of the harvesting season due to an unexpected accident/illness, and the local birds get the bulk of the crop. Said birds shit seeds into the neighbouring National Park, that just happens to have high conservation biodiversity values, and within three years blackberry has all but wiped out the same.

    A guess the point of the whole matter is, we have to keep having this conversation, and we have to keep building into our 'non-native' systems, the ways and means of protecting (perhaps even enhancing) remnant, 'native', biologically diverse eco-systems.

    Yes, we should all be prepared to move from our rooted positions from time-to-time as new evidence of 'best practice' becomes available. The old saying come to mind here: "A little bit of knowledge can be a dangerous thing". We must all be prepared to work together on this aspect of the broader permaculture debate, least we all lose sight of the bigger picture.

    Acacia baileyana (Cootamundra Wattle) grows well (some say too well, especially in the wetter areas) in our bioregion. However I'm not sure if it has crossed with A. dealbata (Silver Wattle), as it is generally too dry for the latter to get a toehold (I tried growing it, but we are just a bit too far north of its endemic zone). What I am sure of though, is I enjoyed munching on oat-based cereal this morning, while drinking coffee and orange juice. All derived from species that in some cases are considered 'invasive weeds'. Similar to the Sugar Glider, perhaps, what I don't think I'd enjoy as much is munching on seeds from my neighbour's A. baileyana.

    No doubt, the 'invasive weed' issue is a 'wicked problem' - for permies and non-permies (nativists?) alike. Maybe we'll touch on it in our work on bioregional planning over the next few years? Who knows? Already we have a lot to do. One thing that is for certain, though - we have to keep working at it. And the job we do here, I believe, furthers this cause.
     
  18. ecodharmamark

    ecodharmamark Junior Member

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    Agreed, pebs. Please see above for a more 'nuanced' response.
     
  19. matto

    matto Junior Member

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  20. ecodharmamark

    ecodharmamark Junior Member

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