Key words: planted forests, sustainability
Abstract. A broad assessment is given of the simplistic contentions that plantation forests are high consumers of water, increase acidification, sustain a low diversity of wildlife, and store more carbon than do unmanaged forests. The following conclusions are drawn: 1. Evapotranspiration from planted forest monocultures is greater than from short vegetation, as a result of greater interception loss. That from conifer forests is usually greater than from deciduous hardwoods, and evapotranspiration from Eucalyptus in the dry tropics is often no greater than from native hardwoods. 2. Compared to short vegetation, forests can significantly increase the transfer of acidifying pollutants from the air to the soil and surface waters, and conifers are more likely to enhance acidification than are hardwoods. 3. There are normally sufficient plantation management options available to make most plantation landscapes the homes of a rich diversity of flora and fauna. 4. An area covered with a plantation managed for maximum volume yield will normally contain substantially less carbon than the same area of unmanaged forest.