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Long term vegetation development on reclaimed sites Polster, D. F. (David Franklin), 1952-
Successional change that leads to the development of stable long lived ecosystems on reclaimed lands is encouraged through the process of successional reclamation. Recognition of reclamation as a long term process on drastically disturbed sites can assist in defining reclamation goals and objectives that can be reasonably achieved in human time frames. The development of vegetation covers that assist in amelioration of adverse site conditions and that encourage natural successional processes can provide a first step in the reclamation process. Pioneering vegetation can improve soil organic matter content, nutrient levels, moisture holding capacity and soil structure. Key elements for successful development of pioneering vegetation include stabilization of unstable sites, control of erosion and an open cover into which native species can invade. This paper explores the steps that can be used to assist natural successional processes in the development of successionally appropriate vegetation on disturbed sites and the development of that vegetation over the long term. Inferences about the future direction of vegetation development are proposed. Examples, including sites where soil bioengineering has been used as a first step in the revegetation process, are drawn from the author's experience.
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