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Restoration of degraded landscapes: Principles and lessons from case studies with salt-affected land and mine revegetation

Bell, R.W. (2002) Restoration of degraded landscapes: Principles and lessons from case studies with salt-affected land and mine revegetation. Chiang Mai University Journal, 1 (1). pp. 1-21.

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Abstract

Land is a finite resource. Every attempt must be made to prevent land degradation. In addition restoration of the legacy of already degraded land needs to be undertaken. Restoration is still a relatively new science. It is increasingly informed by the new discipline of restoration ecology. Land restoration occurs at a range of different scales. Mine rehabilitation has developed many successful practices of land restoration at a site-specific scale. The challenge ahead is to develop effective land restoration practices at a regional or landscape scale. Most success at both scales has to date been concerned with restoring key ecosystem functions like nutrient cycling and water balance. Case studies outlining restoration of each of these functions is discussed. Mining forms a striking comparison with land degradation associated with agriculture for example. Both can result in a catastrophic change in land suitability for plant growth, and may prevent the replacement of the original vegetation. However, whereas agriculture affects vast areas of land, mining has a relatively small footprint. They differ further in that considerably more money is available per unit area for restoration of mined land than can be justified for amelioration of degraded agricultural land. Finally, whereas land degradation caused by mining is closely regulated and mining companies have contractual requirements with Governments to restore mined land to an agreed standard, generally no such obligations are mandatory for agriculture.

Publication Type: Journal Article
Murdoch Affiliation: School of Environmental Science
Publisher: Chiang Mai University
Copyright: © Chiang Mai University
URI: http://researchrepository.murdoch.edu.au/id/eprint/11175
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