Comparing two contrasted methods of sand dune restoration after Eucalyptus clearing

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Tamar Dayan

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Coastal dunes are vulnerable ecosystems, threatened by both direct and indirect human pressures. In Israel, over the past century, well-intentioned efforts were made to stabilize coastal dunes, using exclusively non-native woody plants. Today these species, especially Eucalyptus camaldulensis, cover large areas, effectively stabilizing sand and profoundly modifying native ecosystems both above- and below-ground. In the current research (2015-2018), we tested two different treatments for kick-starting a restoration process: (a) cutting the Eucalypts (assisted regeneration), and (b) cutting the trees, removing all leaf litter, and reintroducing local plant species (active restoration). We established a protocol for collecting a large database on soil structure, nutrient content, soil bacteria, vascular plants, arthropods, and reptiles. We compared data collected from sites undergoing both treatments to the data collected under uncut Eucalyptus, and nearby never planted sand dune ecosystems. Three years after clear-cutting we found significant similarity between Restoration plots and sand dunes control plots. However, Regeneration plots were not significantly different from sand dunes or Eucalyptus controls. We also found significant differences in species composition. Restoration plots were richer in endemic and psammophile plant species, Regeneration plots were richer in foreign plant species. Chalcides sepsoide, a highly adapted skink, did not colonize any of the restored plots. Both Ablepharus rueppellii, and Cyrtopodion kotschy, generalist reptiles, were found only in the Regeneration plots. We concluded that although the litter removal treatment demands larger initial investment, it yields faster and better results for kickstarting self-recovery processes for the degraded coastal dune ecosystem under study

Resource Type:
Audio/Video, Conference Presentation, SER2019

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Society for Ecological Restoration