The value of Australian mountain rainforests, in terms of supplying
water via cloud stripping, has been estimated at $120 million a year.
However, if rising temperatures lift the cloud base 100 metres for
every one degree, as suggested by an international study, cloud forests
will be less able to harvest water directly from the clouds and North
Queensland’s water budget will be affected, according to The Australian, (16/11/2005, p. 17)
North Queensland towns rely on rainforest streams: Many towns
such as Port Douglas and Cairns rely on rainforest streams, not dams,
for their water supply. Peter Hairsine, principal research scientist at
CSIRO’s Land and Water Hairsine said a 40 per cent drop in run-off
would have serious consequences, especially in the dry season when,
despite the lack of rain, the mountains still produce water.
Fisheries and hydro power also affected: Hydro power and
fisheries, which rely on flushing flows through estuaries to move
juvenile fish into the ocean, could also feel the loss if the clouds
miss the mountains, Hairsine said. The value of ecotourism in the
mountains which earns $400 million a year, 10 times what logging
earned, may also be affected.
The Age, 16/11/2005, p. 17