A 10-year case study of tropical grassland restoration using a whole-turf translocation method

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Sylvain Boisson

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Integration of economic activities with environmental integrity is the greatest contemporary challenge, especially in the case of mining activities. In Central Africa, southeastern Democratic Republic of Congo and adjoining regions in the north of Zambia, called the “Copperbelt”, comprise hundreds of copper-cobalt outcrops. Cu-Co outcrops present original grassland communities with over 600 metallophytes, including 56 endemic taxa. This unique vegetation includes a diversity of life forms, including taxa having developed woody underground system as xylopods. Most outcrops have now been allocated to mining companies and are expected to be irreversibly impacted in the coming decades. While pristine metalliferous habitats are threatened by mining operations, the two plant communities, i.e. the steppic savanna and the steppes, benefit from a conservation program. A concrete ecosystem-scale conservation option is currently considered through ecological restoration, using the whole-turf translocation of plant communities. Short-term experiments showed that the main structure of steppes is recovered after two years, whereas for the steppic savanna, weeds are excessive and targeted species (i.e., xylopods) are missing. This study evaluates the success of the whole-turf translocation of plant communities after 10-years of restoration of copper-cobalt ecosystems in order to provide guidelines for practitioners.

Resource Type:
Audio/Video, Conference Presentation, SER2019

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Society for Ecological Restoration