Reforestation and Biomass Production on Coal-Mined Lands: Research Application, Technology Transfer, Improving the Process

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Virginia Tech. Powell River Project


The Powell River Project mined land reforestation research and outreach program has developed prescriptions for re-establishing hardwood forests through reclamation that are being applied by many coal-mining firms to satisfy SMCRA standards. This is a major change in mining practices that applies the results of scientific research to improve environmental outcomes. Despite this change, additional research needs remain. Unanswered questions concern soil development and long-term productivity of post-mining forests, nutrition (e.g. N and P) in mine soils and effects on long-term productivity, forest restoration effects on surface hydrology, and similar issues. This project conducted activities intended to aid continued improvement of forest restoration by the coal industry, maintenance and monitoring of long-term experiments including woody biomass plantings, and technology transfer that communicates the “how to” of forest restoration to the coal industry and agencies.