PROFILE

Environmental Management

, Volume 36, Issue 1, pp 1-14

Potential Tree Species for Use in the Restoration of Unsanitary Landfills

  • Kee Dae KimAffiliated withCenter for Urban Horticulture, University of Washington Email author 
  • , Eun Ju LeeAffiliated withSchool of Biological Sciences, Seoul National University

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ABSTRACT

Given that they represent the most economical option for disposing of refuse, waste landfills are widespread in urban areas. However, landfills generate air and water pollution and require restoration for landscape development. A number of unsanitary waste landfills have caused severe environmental problems in developing countries. This study aimed to investigate the colonization status of different tree species on waste landfills to assess their potential for restoring unsanitary landfills in South Korea. Plot surveys were conducted using 10 × 10-m quadrats at seven waste landfill sites: Bunsuri, Dugiri, Hasanundong, Gomaeri, Kyongseodong, Mojeonri, and Shindaedong. We determined the height, diameter at breast height (DBH), and number of tree species in the plots, and enumerated all saplings ≤1 m high. Because black locust, Robinia pseudoacacia, was the dominant tree species in the waste landfills, we measured the distance from the presumed mother plant (i.e., the tallest black locust in a patch), height, and DBH of all individuals in black locust patches to determine patch structure. Robinia pseudoacacia, Salix koreensis, and Populus sieboldii formed canopy layers in the waste landfills. The basal area of black locust was 1.51 m2/ha, and this species had the highest number of saplings among all tree species. The diameter of the black locust patches ranged from 3.71 to 11.29 m. As the patch diameter increased, the number of regenerated saplings also tended to increase, albeit not significantly. Black locust invaded via bud banks and spread clonally in a concentric pattern across the landfills. This species grew well in the dry habitat of the landfills, and its growth rate was very high. Furthermore, black locust has the ability to fix nitrogen symbiotically; it is therefore considered a well-adapted species for waste landfills. Eleven woody species were selected for screening: Acer palmatum, Albizzia julibrissin, Buxus microphylla var. koreana, Ginkgo biloba, Hibiscus syriacus, Koelreuteria paniculata, Ligustrum obtusifolium, Liriodendron tulipifera, Pinus koraiensis, Pinus thunbergii, and Sophora japonica. As a result of a comparison of the total ratio (sum of shoot extension and diameter growth at the landfill relative to a reference site) and mortality, six species (Liriodendron tulipifera, Albizzia julibrissin, Ligustrum obtusifolium, Buxus microphylla var. koreana, Hibiscus syriacus, and Sophora japonica), which had a total ratio >1 and experienced low mortality, are recommended as potentially suitable species for waste landfill remediation. We suggest that mixed plantations of ubiquitous adaptable species and naturally occurring black locust will enhance the landscape through synergistic effects.

Keywords

Adaptable species Black locust Landfill Restoration South Korea Unsanitary landfill