The expanding area of plantations intended to feed the proposed pulp mill, is already having a major impact on the state.
Plantations lock in water shortages. Over 40 of Tasmania’s 48 water catchments are affected by thirsty plantation trees drawing water out of the ground and lowering the water table. Consumption of water by expanding plantations in the headwaters affects everyone downstream. When plantations exceed 8% of the catchment area, river flow audits show declining water levels particularly during dry summer months as evaporation rates increase (D. Leaman).
Plantations compete for water with irrigators, farmers, domestic consumers and the environmental flows needed to sustain river health. Changes in land use to plantations lock in patterns of water consumption for decades, at a time of declining rainfall from climate disruption. Tax subsidised plantations are taking water that could be used to make Tasmania the food bowl of Australia.