Rashes of wild eucalyptus crowd the Nagsiche River basin. The Ministry of Agriculture’s local branch does not keep track of how many hectares of wild eucalyptus, pine and other exotic species occupy the Salcedo region. Photo by Johnny Magdaleno/Mongabay

MongaBay.com recently published a piece titled Indigenous farmers fight eucalyptus damage to water source in Ecuador, where we are reminded of the environmental fallout of traditional eucalyptus plantations.

Non-GMO eucalyptus plantations have had devastating impacts on communities across the world. In Chile, Mapuche communities surrounded by eucalyptus and pine plantations face water shortages and have to truck in water for part of the year. Political repression for organizing against plantations in Mapuche communities has resulted in harassment, arrests, and murders of Mapuche leaders.

In South Africa, eucalyptus is widely invasive, and intense water use has been well documented. Increased drought and disappearance of surface and ground water plague areas where eucalyptus plantations are established.

Topics from the MongaBay.com piece include:

  • In Ecuador’s central Cotopaxi province, massive industrial eucalyptus production is presenting problems for Cotopaxi’s rural economy, which traditionally thrived on flower and broccoli production.
  • Throughout the Nagsiche River water basin, exotic species like eucalyptus and pine have wreaked havoc on the soil by sucking out tremendous amounts of water.
  • Frustrated with a lack of assistance from the local government to curb the eucalyptus, 400 community members pooled together funds to purchase these 99 acres and turn them into an unofficial nature reserve.
  • Over the past 15 years, some stretches of the Nagsiche River have seen their water flow decrease by 40 percent.

As if this weren’t bad enough, the risks associated with eucalyptus trees only increase with eucalyptus trees genetically engineered for industry. These risks include invasiveness, “explosive” flammability, fresh water depletion, destruction of native forests and biodiversity, harming endangered species and increasing applications of toxic chemicals.

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