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New Zealand Journal of Forestry (1994) 39(3): 26–30
©New Zealand Institute of Forestry

Research article
The forest and water quality relationship

Colin O'Loughlin

The projected strong growth over the next decade or more in the size of New Zealand's plantation forest estate and the area of annual forest harvest suggests that plantation forests will have increasing potential to influence water resources. The evidence from small catchment studies and broader-scale, water-quality monitoring programmes indicate that streams draining undisturbed indigenous and mature plantation forests have high water quality with low concentrations of dissolved nutrients, suspended solids and microbiological organisms. Forest activities such as harvesting and road or track construction can degrade water quality, at least in the short term, particularly by increasing the suspended sediment in streams. Management approaches such as application of modern harvest planning, low-impact harvesting techniques and development or retention of Streamside buffer zones can effectively protect soils and slope stability and prevent erosion products from entering streams.
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