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New Forests

, Volume 43, Issue 5–6, pp 905–924 | Cite as

Influence of herbaceous ground cover on forest restoration of eastern US coal surface mines

  • Jennifer A. Franklin
  • Carl E. Zipper
  • James A. Burger
  • Jeffrey G. Skousen
  • Douglass F. Jacobs
Article

Abstract

Competitive effects of dense herbaceous vegetation (ground cover) can inhibit forest restoration on mine sites. Here we review the evidence of ground cover interactions with planted tree seedlings on coal surface mines of the eastern US, discuss recent research into these interactions, and draw conclusions concerning ground cover management when restoring forests on reclaimed coal mines. Reclaimed mine sites have a high potential to support productive forests, however forest establishment is inhibited by reclamation practices that included soil compaction, and the seeding of competitive ground covers. In the first few years after tree planting, a dense ground cover of grass and legume species commonly seeded on mine sites often affect growth and survival negatively. Herbaceous vegetation providing less extensive and competitive ground coverage may either facilitate or inhibit tree establishment, depending on site conditions. The use of quality planting stock promotes the competitive ability of seedlings by improving nutrient status and the ability to capture available resources. Herbaceous species have contrasting functional characteristics, and thus compete differently with trees for available resources. Negative interactions with trees are more frequently reported for non-native cool-season grasses than for native warm-season grasses, while the effects of legumes change over time. Further research is needed to fully understand the mechanisms of tree/ground cover interactions. The development of seeding mixes that can control erosion, facilitate survival and growth of planted trees, and allow establishment by unplanted native species would aid forest restoration on eastern US, coal mines.

Keywords

Hardwoods Competition Grass Legumes Mine reclamation Site preparation 

Notes

Acknowledgments

The US Office of Surface Mining and Appalachian Regional Reforestation Initiative was instrumental to the formation of a scientific team of mine reclamation researchers, and provided funding support for research that led to this review.

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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  • Jennifer A. Franklin
    • 1
  • Carl E. Zipper
    • 2
  • James A. Burger
    • 3
  • Jeffrey G. Skousen
    • 4
  • Douglass F. Jacobs
    • 5
  1. 1.Department of Forestry, Wildlife and FisheriesUniversity of TennesseeKnoxvilleUSA
  2. 2.Department of Crop and Soil Environmental SciencesVirginia Polytechnic Institute and State UniversityBlacksburgUSA
  3. 3.Department of Forest Resources and Environmental ConservationVirginia Polytechnic Institute and State UniversityBlacksburgUSA
  4. 4.Department of Plant and Soil ScienceWest Virginia UniversityMorgantownUSA
  5. 5.Department of Forestry and Natural Resources, Hardwood Tree Improvement and Regeneration CenterPurdue UniversityWest LafayetteUSA

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