Implementation and Evaluation of Roadside Restoration Treatments in Heathland Vegetation

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Steinunn Garðarsdóttir, Ása L. Aradóttir

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Ecological restoration associated with construction of infrastructure has the main aim to mitigate effects on biodiversity and landscape aesthetics. Reclamation of roadsides in Iceland has historically focused on soil stabilization by seeding grass mixtures and fertilization, but has shifted in recent years towards restoration of native vegetation, mainly by using topsoil or turfs of native sward salvaged from the roadbed. The effectiveness of these approaches is, however, still unclear. The aim of our research was to evaluate the biological and aesthetic outcomes of different approaches to roadside reclamation and assess the implementation process of new methods using restoration approaches. Species composition and visual characteristics of roadside areas were compared to adjacent undisturbed plant communities in actual, large-scale road construction projects. The implementation process was analyzed by observation and interviews of key partners. Results show that turf transplantation was the quickest and probably most effective way to restore the species composition and visual characteristics of heathland communities on road verges. This was trailed by topsoil addition and finally seeding grasses. The first large-scale turf transplantation project in Iceland demanded extra effort during the planning process with a new way of thinking and multidisciplinary approaches, but the construction phase worked out well. Communication between different partners throughout the project was a key factor in successful implementation. The overall outcome depends on biological and visual factors as well as the attitude towards the implementation demanding a new way of thinking for planners, engineers, contractors – and ecologists.

Resource Type:
Conference Presentation, SER2021

Pre-approved for CECs under SER's CERP program