Selection of suitable plant species for alpine meadow protection near an open-pit copper mine in Tibet

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Shiliang Liu

Publication Date:

The open-pit mining of copper mines has brought tremendous economic benefits to Tibet while seriously damaging the local alpine meadows. This study describes an effective approach to select suitable plant species for reducing interference from mining in the Qulong copper mine in Tibet. We compared soil variables, vegetation structure, and floristic composition along different gradients (10, 50, 100, 150, 200, 250, 300, 400 m) from the mine. Soil variables showed a general trend over the gradient of increasing soil organic matter, total carbon, and nitrogen, but a reduction in soil pH, Cu, As, Cr, Ni, and Pb. Most of the heavy metal content exceeds the background value of the region, which means that all the samples have been contaminated with heavy metals from mining activity. It also suggested that the impact of copper mining on the surrounding ecological environment is over 400 m. Non-metric multidimensional scaling analyses revealed that great differences in vegetation community composition existed in the sampled plots, even those at similar distances from mining areas, which indicates that disturbance distance was not the only factor to determine the vegetation community. The results of Canonical Correlation Analyses showed that Cu was the main soil variable affecting the vegetation diversity in this region. Malva sylvestris, a perennial erect herb, had the highest tolerance to Cu. The use of Malva sylvestris to isolate the mining area from the fragile alpine meadow area is an effective method to reduce the damage of mining to the regional ecosystem.

Resource Type:
Audio/Video, Conference Presentation, SER2019

Pre-approved for CECs under SER's CERP program

Society for Ecological Restoration