Eucalyptus Myths and Realities:
- Eucalyptus is water- intensive and destroys the soils and the underground water table.
- Studies have shown that Eucalyptus consumed 0.48 litres of water to produce a gram of wood, compared to 0.55, 0.77, 0.50 and 0.88 litre per gram for siris, shisham, jamun and kangi respectively. Thus, Eucalyptus is more water efficient than many indigenous species. However, the mean annual growth of Eucalyptus is about 8 cum/ha – 40 cum/ha, as compared to the average of 0.50 cu m/ha for indigenous trees. Being much faster in growth; the very reason for which the species was introduced in the country; the water and nutrient absorption of the tree is much more than the slow growing indigenous trees.
- The drought hardiness of the species comes from the fact that Eucalyptus has deep rooted system and an ability to absorb water even at higher moisture tension level, than many other mesophytes plants. E. tereticornis planted in arid and semiarid areas of Portugal 15 years back, have shown no evidence of soil degradation over the years
- However, though Eucalyptus is an excellent industrial species, providing timber for poles, pulp and fuelwood, it cannot be used as fodder plant and provide other non-timber uses, limiting its role as a social forestry tree. Thus, plantations of eucalyptus may be limited as industrial plantations with management regime drawn parallel to any intensively produced crop.