Lead researcher: Dr Baden Myers

The Project

This project will enable the forest industry to pro-actively manage use and promote conservation of surface water, groundwater and natural wetland assets within their management areas and be recognised by other licenced users, the community and water regulator as working with a social licence.

To improve the commercial and scientific basis on which plantation forest managers in the Lower Limestone Coast can actively manage their available water resources most efficiently, sustainably and flexibly. This information and tools will provide an approach that can be adapted for use in other jurisdictions where plantation water use and water resources need to be managed for optimal economic, social and environmental outcomes.

Our Research Approach

Remote Sensing
To derive near-daily estimates of tree water use at 10m spatial resolution, and deliver estimates through a tool – may present an alternative to the current forest water use accounting tool

Ground Monitoring
Collect on-ground water use estimates (sap flow) to add to existing monitoring data collected from 2004 to 2009, and to ground truth (calibrate) the remote sensing tool output to measured data.

Examine wetland setbacks, their derivation, impact and improved means of managing wetlands for plantation managers.

Groundwater Recharge
Improve the estimated recharge across the LLC WAP area and examine the uncertainty of the estimated recharge values.

Richard Benyon_Water Management NIFPI

Richard Benyon collecting data from test site

Our Findings

Remote Sensing

  • Developed the FORETHIR Mach 1 (FORest Evapo Transpiration at High Resolution) remote sensing tool. This tool uses satellite remove sensing to estimate plantation forest evapotranspiration.
  • Calibrated the tool to evapotranspiration field data, and compared performance to other evapotranspiration estimation tools available which are not specific to commercial forest landuse.

Field Monitoring

  • Installed, monitored and reported on eight sites whre plantation evapotranspiration was measured in research plots of 20x30m. 
  • Sites include Pinus radiata and Eucalyptus Globulous plantation, with a focus on high and low water use locations, and areas where groundwater is 6 to 9 metres below ground.


  • Produced tools to rapidly and consistently produce depth to groundwater maps and investigage groundwater recharge relationships in the South East of South Australia for any period fro 1980 to present. Tool is driven by South Australian Government groundwater observation well data.
  • Produced estimates of uncertainty to accompany recharge estimation data which can be used to prioritise areas where ore data collection is required.


  • Reviewed the soure of wetland setback recommendations to inducate a need for more research to support current guidelines.
  • Examined the distribution of high and very high value wetlands in the South East of South Australia, indicating those which are near plantation forests and the number of wetlands which have limited data and no value rating and developed recommendations for improved management.
  • Undertaken a site specific case study on the impacts of landuse on Lake Leake, near Glencoe, South Australia.


What is the Future of R&D for the Mangement of Plantation Water and Environmental Assets?
  • Decisions to be made on how to utilise research in the Water Allocation Plan (WAP) review process giving consideration to what results to advocate and how to have research results included in the WAP.
  • Further considerations to be ade on the following areas: Method of estimating plantation water use, assumed groundwater map baseline, groundwater recharge under plantations, impact of clay layers on groundwater extraction and management areas.
Our Team

Researchers:  Baden Myers, Jeff Lawson, Jim O'Hehir, Stefan Peters, Guna Hewa Alankarage, Chris Chow, Mizanur Rahman, Eriita Jones, Richard Benyon (University of Melbourne), Okke Batelaan (Flinders University), Daniel Partington (Flinders University).

Industry Collaborators: Australian Bluegum Plantations, Timberlands, Green Triangle Forest Operating Subtrust, SFM Environmental Solutions, OneFortyOne Plantations, Green Triangle Forest Products, SFM, PF Olsen, The University of Melbourne, Flinders University


Contact information

Dr Jim O’Hehir
General Manager: Forest Research Mount Gambier
Ph: +61 8 830 28997
E: Jim.O'Hehir@unisa.edu.au

Michele Cranage
Administrative Officer
Ph: +61 8 830 28902
E: Michele.Cranage@unisa.edu.au