The timber industry is under pressure from civil society groups and government water regulators to halt "unauthorised" land conversion from pine to gum trees in the sprawling Mpumalanga timber plantations because of growing concern over regional water scarcity.It is also under pressure to reduce the size of some newly established gum tree plantations by as much as a third, to compensate for the increased water use by these trees.This is because extensive national and international research by scientists has shown that, with some exceptions, eucalyptus (gum) trees use significantly more water than pine trees - on average about 30% more and in some cases as much as 51% more.The plantation industry, however, is focused on the growing global demand for wood fibres from gum trees to produce dissolving wood pulp, including increased production at the massive Sappi pulp mill at Ngodwana, about 50km from Mbombela.Forestry SA (FSA) - representing the plantation industry - contends there ar...

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