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Revegetation is the process of replanting and rebuilding the soil of disturbed land. This may be a natural process produced by plant colonization and succession, manmade rewilding projects, accelerated process designed to repair damage to a landscape due to wildfire, mining, flood, or other cause. Originally the process was simply one of applying seed and fertilizer to disturbed lands, usually grasses or clover. The fibrous root network of grasses is useful for short-term erosion control, particularly on sloping ground. Establishing long-term plant communities requires forethought as to appropriate species for the climate, size of stock required, and impact of replanted vegetation on local fauna. The motivations behind revegetation are diverse, answering needs that are both technical and aesthetic, but it is usually erosion prevention that is the primary reason. Revegetation helps prevent soil erosion, enhances the ability of the soil to absorb more water in significant rain events, and in conjunction reduces turbidity dramatically in adjoining bodies of water. Revegetation also aids protection of engineered grades and other earthworks.
Revegetation for conservation
Revegetation is often used to join up patches of natural habitat that have been lost, and can be a very important tool in places where much of the natural vegetation has been cleared. It is therefore particularly important in urban environments, and research in Brisbane has shown that revegetation projects can significantly improve urban bird populations The Brisbane study showed that connecting a revegetation patch with existing habitat improved bird species richness, while simply concentrating on making large patches of habitat was the best way to increase bird abundance. Revegetation plans therefore need to consider how the revegetated sites are connected with existing habitat patches. Revegetation in agricultural areas can support breeding bird populations, but often it supports more common species, rather than those that are in decline.
Mine reclamation may involve soil amendment, replacement, or creation, particularly for areas that have been strip mined or suffered severe erosion or soil compaction. In some cases, the native soil may be removed prior to construction and replaced with fill for the duration of the work. After construction is completed, the fill is again removed and replaced with the reserved native soil for revegetation.
Mycorrhizae, symbiotic fungal-plant communities, are important to the success of revegetation efforts. Most woody plant species need these root-fungi communities to thrive, and nursery or greenhouse transplants may not have sufficient or correct mycorrhizae for good survival. Regional differences in ectomycorrhizal fungi may also affect the success of revegetation.
- Revegetating Riparian Areas in the Southwest “Lessons Learned” David R. Dreesen, Agronomist/Horticulturist Gregory A. Fenchel, Manager USDA–NRCS Los Lunas Plant Materials Center
- A Revegetation Manual For Alaska Stoney J. Wright 2008
- Shanahan, D.F., Miller, C., Possingham, H.P. & Fuller, R.A. 2011. The influence of patch area and connectivity on avian communities in urban revegetation. Biological Conservation, 144, 722–729.
- "Native bird breeding in a chronosequence of revegetated sites". Oecologia 159: 435–446. doi:10.1007/s00442-008-1221-9.
- Revegetation restoration for culvert replacement in a wetland Ashenhurst, Amber;Polzin, Mary Louise 2010
- "Revegetation in Alaska: Usibelli, seeds & topsoil, and mycorrhizae," Dot Helm. Agroborealis (37:2) 4-15.
- Broadhurst LM, et al. (2008) Seed supply for broadscale restoration: maximizing evolutionary potential. Evolutionary Applications 1(4):587-597.