The restoration of unused urban-industrial areas has largely been neglected despite their great potential for nature conservation purposes. We applied three plant introduction treatments at a highly degraded industrial area to test whether plant material introduced onto industrial areas initiates plant assemblages similar in composition to those of reference grasslands. We specifically asked (a) Does restoration differ between primary and secondary reference sites in terms of overall species richness and cover three years after the introduction of plant material? (b) What is the sociability of species of the vegetation resulting from different treatments?
Restoration and reference grassland sites with acidic sandy soil in the temperate region of the EU, NE Hungary, Nyírség.
As restoration techniques, we (a) directly seeded a single dominant species, (b) applied a commercial seed mixture, and (c) transferred hay. We compared species composition, cover, species richness and sociability of species in restoration treatments to reference grasslands. Inventories of vascular plant species were made at five randomly placed 2 m × 2 m sampling units per plot.
The species composition of seeded restoration plots (with a single dominant species and a commercial seed mixture) became similar to that of reference grasslands. Both types of seeding resulted in a similar cover, whereas seeding a commercial seed mixture and hay transfer resulted in a species richness similar to that of reference grasslands. The cover of the natural constituents (NC) of seeded plots also reached that of reference grasslands, while hay addition resulted in a lower cover and a higher number of NC than other methods.
The introduction of propagules in degraded industrial areas can provide communities similar, after three years, to those of secondary reference grasslands that are 30 years of age. We conclude that investing in the restoration of native grasslands at unused urban-industrial sites can be a great opportunity to enhance biodiversity.
Kövendi-Jakó et al. Three years of vegetation development... (2019)