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Eucalyptus plantations are biological deserts

eucalyptusEucalyptus trees cause "dramatic reduction" of biodiversity, with researcher at the University of Coimbra concluding that "eucalyptus leaves prevent the growth of roots of other plant species."

An international study undertaken by the university and published in the journal Global Ecology and Biogeography,* concludes that "the eucalyptus trees generate authentic 'deserts' around them, causing a dramatic reduction of the biodiversity of the territory."

Daniel Montesinos, of the Centre for Functional Ecology at the Faculty of Science and Technology of the University of Coimbra joined researchers from Australia, Chile, USA and India.

The experts evaluated the plant biodiversity present in eucalyptus areas both in the tree’s native area, Australia, and in countries around the world where the species was introduced industrially, including Portugal.

"The chemical substances present in the leaves of the eucalyptus prevent root growth in other native species, which is why eucalyptus plantations contain very little biodiversity outside their native area in Australia," said Montesinos.

The main result of this work, says the researcher, "was to show, for the first time and on a world scale, how the biodiversity beneath the eucalyptus tree is reduced and how extracts from eucalyptus leaves prevent root growth of other plant species."

Eucalyptus plantations are "highly detrimental", warns Daniel Montesinos, stressing that "the impoverishment of species triggered by eucalyptus has an impact on the whole ecosystem, for example, in the control of soil erosion and in the maintenance of biodiversity."

The reduction of biodiversity does not occur in Australia, because "numerous species have been able to develop a tolerance to the chemicals present eucalyptus leaves throughout the centuries," explains the report.

Outside Australia, "ironically, some of the species that can survive under the eucalyptus also are exotic species, creating a vicious circle of reduced biodiversity and invasive species," said Daniel Montesinos.

"The results of the work show, without any doubt, the impoverishment of the areas planted with eucalyptus, which even if they may look green, in fact are deserts," concluded the researcher.


* 'Global Ecology and Biogeography' is a bimonthly peer-reviewed scientific journal that was established in 1991. It covers research in the field of macroecology. The current editor-in-chief is Brian McGill. According to the Journal Citation Reports, the journal has a 2010 impact factor of 5.273, ranking it first among 42 journals in the category "Geography, Physical" and 7th out of 129 journals in the category "Ecology", and 4th in the category "Biodiversity and Conservation".


+1 #4 Jeff Brown 2017-12-10 10:34
Full marks to these Coimbra University researchers for getting a grip on and making public what anyone able to tie their shoe laces already knew. Spend just 5 minutes in eucalyptus woodland to see how much it has destroyed the native flora and fauna of Portugal.
But this is Portugal and it must be 'Left to Allah' to deal with too intensive over planting of eucalyptus. But then perhaps Allah is trying to tell us something in the hundreds of eucalyptus forest fires a day we see across Portugal in the ever lengthening hot season.
+2 #3 Peter Booker 2017-12-07 12:14
And I thought they used circulation figures. Thank you.
+1 #2 Ed 2017-12-07 09:28
Quoting Peter Booker:
Dear Ed, what on earth is an impact factor?

The impact factor (IF) or journal impact factor (JIF) of an academic journal is a measure reflecting the yearly average number of citations to recent articles published in that journal. It is frequently used as a proxy for the relative importance of a journal within its field; journals with higher impact factors are often deemed to be more important than those with lower ones. The impact factor was devised by Eugene Garfield, the founder of the Institute for Scientific Information. Impact factors are calculated yearly starting from 1975 for journals listed in the Journal Citation Reports.
0 #1 Peter Booker 2017-12-07 09:21
Dear Ed, what on earth is an impact factor?