New Zealand’s water resources are coming under increasing pressure with intensification of the primary sector along with a growing population and urbanisation. With the increased water demand by rural and urban users, the forestry sector’s interest in intensifying production, and the potential impacts of climate change, planted forests are increasingly seen as a significant competitor for regional water resources. This perception, rightly or wrongly, could impact how existing forests are managed and where new forests are established in the future.
Understanding the issues surrounding planted forests on water quantity and quality and the current state of knowledge is important for forest managers. This review: outlines the current and future challenges facing the forestry sector with water, the state of knowledge of New Zealand planted forest hydrology, and water quantity and quality dynamics; provides the results of a phone survey on how regional councils perceive forestry in their water management plans; identifies knowledge gaps; and concludes with some recommendations.