Eucalyptus plantations in Israel: an assessment of economic and environmental viability

New Forests (Impact Factor: 1.78). 09/2008; 36(2):135-157. DOI: 10.1007/s11056-008-9089-4

ABSTRACT This paper discusses a plantation management approach involving a combination of “short” and “long” rotations designed to
allow farmers to receive income from trees as soon as possible after establishment. We present results from two plots that
represent extreme conditions: (a) a seasonally waterlogged, non-saline site (Nahalal), and (b) a saline site (Ginnegar) located
in the Yizre’el Valley, Israel. Six improved seed sources, four of Eucalyptus camaldulensis and two of E. occidentalis, were examined. The local Israeli seed source of E. camaldulensis (HA) performed best at both sites. In Nahalal, the short rotation thinning of the slower growing (50%) plantation trees could
provide economic returns approximately five years after establishment. The calculated mean annual increment (MAI) of these
trees reached 12.2tha−1year−1. The long rotation, or better performing half of the plantation trees, could be used as a source of sawn timber, providing
higher-value products. By nine years after establishment, the average DBH of the various seed sources reached 25.8±1.9cm.
The calculated MAI of the combined cutting rotations reached 48.3tha−1year−1. Eucalyptus grown under the combined (short- and long-term) management approach at Nahalal was more profitable than many other non-irrigated
local crops. Eucalyptus production in Ginnegar would be less profitable than in Nahalal. However, an additional ecological benefit was provided by
the crop’s ability to lower the water table. When this contribution to regional drainage is taken into account, trees become
economically competitive with other non-irrigated field crops under saline conditions.

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