Soil and plant communities development and ecological effectiveness of reclamation on a sand mine cast

Citation:Pietrzykowski M.: (2008): Soil and plant communities development and ecological effectiveness of reclamation on a sand mine cast. J. For. Sci., 54: 554-565.
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The aim of the study was to assess terrestrial ecosystem development (mainly vegetation and soil characteristics) in the area of a sand mine cast (located in southern Poland) that has been either reclaimed or left for natural succession. A total of 20 sites in a chronosequence of 5, 17, 20 and 25 years were set up in two site categories: reclaimed and non-reclaimed sites. Selected properties of initial soils and features of vegetation were measured and they included carbon accumulation in soil; biomass and diversity of communities were also estimated. Next, based on carbon accumulation, the energy trapped in ecosystem components was estimated. Although the results of plant community investigation did not show the same distinct differences between site categories, the case study suggests that reclamation significantly accelerates ecosystem development. In comparison with spontaneous succession, the complete forest reclamation was found to increase the amount of carbon accumulation, thickness of humus horizon, and energy trapped in soil organic carbon and plant biomass in the developing ecosystem 2–3 times and nitrogen accumulation 5 times.
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