Factors influencing early restoration progress of a Eucalyptus tereticornis open forest on former agricultural land
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We monitored an area that was revegetated with the goal of restoring a Eucalyptus tereticornis open forest on former agricultural land in central, eastern Queensland. Revegetation involved: (1) planting 60 ha of previously cleared and heavily grazed land with eight local trees species; and (2) removing cattle grazing to encourage natural regeneration in areas where some mature trees remained. We compared the revegetation site to native pasture that had also been previously cleared, with only scattered paddock trees remaining, and continued to be managed for livestock production (an area similar to the revegetation site, prior to planting) and a remnant forest (reference area). Nine years since revegetation began there was some evidence that the revegetated site was diverging from pasture in terms of understorey plant composition, sapling density and topsoil C and N. There was little divergence in terms of plant species richness (native, introduced, grass, forb and woody plant richness), herbaceous biomass and woody plant regeneration. Some monitoring plots were subject to fire (prescribed fire and or wildfire) over the period of monitoring. With increasing time since fire, the richness of native species, introduced species and grass species (both native and introduced) declined, and forb and grass species richness declined with increasing litter biomass, suggesting that the occurrence of fire and the associated removal of litter biomass has a positive influence on herbaceous diversity in this ecosystem. Woody plant regeneration persisted through lignotubers at the revegetation site and at the pasture, but this regeneration was stunted at the pasture presumably due to livestock grazing. Hence areas of former E. tereticornis forest showed promising regenerative capacity where mature trees remained and where livestock grazing was removed.
Pacific Conservation Biology
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Environmental Science and Management not elsewhere classified