An assessment of restoration success to forests planted for ecosystem restoration in loess plateau, Northwestern China
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Using ecosystem attributes identified by the Society of Ecological Restoration International, we assessed three restoration projects in the loess plateau, northwestern China, including planting Larix principis-rupprechtii (LS) and Pinus tabulaeformis (PS) on shrubland, and planting L. principis-rupprechtii on open forest land (LO). The reestablishment of native species in LS and PS was poorer than LO because of the excessive stand density. Species diversity, seedling number, and seedling diversity were significantly higher in LO than in LS and PS. Soil nutrient was also significantly higher in the LO treatment. The vegetation composition, species diversity, and soil nutrient in LO, however, were more similar to these in the reference. Our results indicate that planting L. principis-rupprechtii on open forest land had accelerated the succession of the ecosystem for approximately 30 years. But the poor natural regeneration of L. principis-rupprechtii suggests that post-planting activities in LO are required after timber harvesting or the natural mortality of the L. principis-rupprechtii. Management operation such as selective thinning will be required in LS and PS to promote the true restoration of native species diversity in the future.
KeywordsRestoration success Vegetation composition Species diversity Regeneration Soil nutrient
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