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Open AccessArticle

Soil Properties and Biomass Attributes in a Former Gravel Mine Area after Two Decades of Forest Restoration

1
Department of Ecology, Brandenburg University of Technology, 03046 Cottbus, Senftenberg, Germany
2
Department of Environmental Management, University of Energy and Natural Resources, Sunyani 00233, Ghana
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Land 2020, 9(6), 209; https://doi.org/10.3390/land9060209
Received: 3 June 2020 / Revised: 22 June 2020 / Accepted: 23 June 2020 / Published: 26 June 2020
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Landscape Transformation and Changes in Land Use Intensity)
The ongoing global deforestation resulting from anthropogenic activities such as unsustainable agriculture and surface mining threatens biodiversity and decreases both soil carbon and above-ground biomass stocks. In this study, we assessed soil properties and below- and above-ground biomass attributes in a restored former gravel mine area in Ghana two decades after active restoration with potted plants and fresh topsoil. We compared conditions to four alternative land-use types (unrestored abandoned gravel mine, arable land, semi-natural forest, and natural forest) representing pre- and post-disturbance as well as natural reference states. We hypothesized that soil properties and related levels of below- and above-ground biomass in the restored area share similarities with the natural reference systems and thereby are indicative of a trajectory towards successful restoration. Eight replicated subareas in each land-use type were assessed for a set of soil parameters as well as below- and above-ground biomass attributes. The soil properties characteristic for the restored area differed significantly from pre-restoration stages, such as the abandoned gravel site, but did not differ significantly from properties in the natural forest (except for bulk density and base saturation). Above-ground biomass was lower in the restored area in comparison to the reference natural forests, while differences were not significant for below-ground biomass. Silt and effective cation exchange capacity were closely related to above-ground biomass, while below-ground biomass was related to soil organic carbon, bulk density, and potassium concentration in soils. Our results suggest that major steps towards successful restoration can be accomplished within a relatively short period, without the wholesale application of topsoil. Improving soil conditions is a vital tool for the successful development of extensive vegetation cover after surface mining, which also affects carbon sequestration by both above- and below-ground biomass. We emphasize that the use of reference systems provides critical information for the monitoring of ecosystem development towards an expected future state of the restored area. View Full-Text
Keywords: carbon sequestration; degradation; forest management; mining; restoration success carbon sequestration; degradation; forest management; mining; restoration success
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Damptey, F.G.; Birkhofer, K.; Nsiah, P.K.; de la Riva, E.G. Soil Properties and Biomass Attributes in a Former Gravel Mine Area after Two Decades of Forest Restoration. Land 2020, 9, 209.

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