Reforestation and Ecosystem Services: If you build it, will they come?
Strahm, Brian D.
Avera, Bethany N.
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This report provides an update on a newly established project that will contribute to the legacy of reforestation research at the Powell River Project and provide benefit to the larger Appalachian Coal Region. The overarching question driving this research is to determine how quickly, and to what extent, forest ecosystem services are restored to the post-mining landscape through reforestation. During a plenary address at the American Society of Mining and Reclamation annual meeting in 2010, Dr. Jim Burger challenged reclamation professionals to advance the Forestry Reclamation Approach (FRA) beyond simply recreating forest structure (e.g., stem density, species composition) and to more explicitly work toward what he termed the "Forest Ecosystem Reclamation Approach" where carbon and nutrient cycling processes; water quality and quantity regulation; and greenhouse gas sink and source dynamics are considered as critical components of functioning forest ecosystems. This proposal seeks support to identify a chronosequence (a group of sites that differ primarily in time since establishment) of reforested mined sites to evaluate the rate at which these valuable ecosystem services are developed. The ultimate goal is to use this information to relate forest ecosystem structure and function in reclaimed mined lands and better inform reclamation practitioners on strategies to successfully return a functional forest ecosystem to the landscape as efficiently as possible.