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  • Yirdaw, Eshetu; Tigabu, Mulualem; Monge Monge, Adrian Antonio (2017)
    Land degradation is widespread and a serious threat affecting the livelihoods of 1.5 billion people worldwide of which one sixth or 250 million people reside in drylands. Globally, it is estimated that 10–20% of drylands are already degraded and about 12 million ha are degraded each year. Driven by unsustainable land use practices, adverse climatic conditions and population increase, land degradation has led to decline in provision of ecosystem services, food insecurity, social and political instability and reduction in the ecosystem’s resilience to natural climate variability. Several global initiatives have been launched to combat land degradation, including rehabilitation of degraded drylands. This review aimed at collating the current state-of-knowledge about rehabilitation of degraded drylands. It was found that the prospect of restoring degraded drylands is technically promising using a suite of passive (e.g. area exclosure, assisted natural regeneration, rotational grazing) and active (e.g. mixed-species planting, framework species, maximum diversity, and use of nurse tree) rehabilitation measures. Advances in soil reclamation using biological, chemical and physical measures have been made. Despite technical advances, the scale of rehabilitation intervention is small and lacks holistic approach. Development of process based models that forecast outcomes of the various rehabilitation activities will be useful tools for researchers and practitioners. The concept of forest landscape restoration approach, which operates at landscape-level, could also be adopted as the overarching framework for rehabilitation of degraded dryland ecosystems. The review identified a data gap in cost-benefit analysis of rehabilitation interventions. However, the cost of rehabilitation and sustainable management of drylands is opined to be lower than the losses that accrue from inaction, depending on the degree of degradation. Thus, local communities’ participation, incorporation of traditional ecological knowledge, clear division of tasks and benefits, strengthening local institutions are crucial not only for cost-sharing, but also for the long-term success of rehabilitation activities.
  • Urbanova, Zuzana; Straková, Petra; Kastovska, Eva (2018)
    Various peatland restoration strategies developed during the last two decades have aimed to stop degradation and bring back the original hydrology, biodiversity and other peatland functions. This study evaluated progress 6-15 years after rewetting in vegetation development, physicochemical properties of peat, soil organic matter (SOM) quality and microbial activity in previously long-term drained bogs and spruce swamp forests (SSF) in comparison with pristine and long-term drained sites in the Bohemian Forest, Czech Republic. Long-term drainage led to overall ecosystem degradation, indicated by a change in vegetation composition, reduced decomposability of peat, with high content of recalcitrant compounds and decreased pH, and reduced soil microbial biomass and activity. The degradation was more pronounced in SSF, while bogs seemed to be relatively resistant to environmental changes caused by drainage. Post-rewetting progress has occurred with regard to vegetation composition, peat pH, microbial biomass and potential anaerobic CO2 and CH4 production, all of which tending towards characteristics of the pristine sites. However, overall SOM quality has not yet responded significantly, indicating that some peat properties and functions, such as C accumulation, need much longer periods of time to return to the original level.
  • Punttila, Pekka; Autio, Olli; Kotiaho, Janne S.; Kotze, D. Johan; Loukola, Olli J.; Noreika, Norbertas; Vuori, Anna; Vepsäläinen, Kari (2016)
    Habitat loss and degradation are the main threats to biodiversity worldwide. For example, nearly 80% of peatlands in southern Finland have been drained. There is thus a need to safeguard the remaining pristine mires and to restore degraded ones. Ants play a pivotal role in many ecosystems and like many keystone plant species, shape ecosystem conditions for other biota. The effects of mire restoration and subsequent vegetation succession on ants, however, are poorly understood. We inventoried tree stands, vegetation, water-table level, and ants (with pitfall traps) in nine mires in southern Finland to explore differences in habitats, vegetation and ant assemblages among pristine, drained (30-40 years ago) and recently restored (1-3 years ago) pine mires. We expected that restoring the water-table level by ditch filling and reconstructing sparse tree stands by cuttings will recover mire vegetation and ants. We found predictable responses in habitat structure, floristic composition and ant assemblage structure both to drainage and restoration. However, for mire-specialist ants the results were variable and longer-term monitoring is needed to confirm the success of restoration since these social insects establish perennial colonies with long colony cycles. We conclude that restoring the water-table level and tree stand structure seem to recover the characteristic vegetation and ant assemblages in the short term. This recovery was likely enhanced because drained mires still had both acrotelm and catotelm, and connectedness was still reasonable for mire organisms to recolonize the restored mires either from local refugia or from populations of nearby mires.