Date: 22 Feb 2013

Slow restoration of soil microbial functions in an Acacia plantation established on degraded land in Thailand

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Abstract

Deforestation diminishes the ecological services that a forest provides (e.g., flood prevention). To restore such services, reforestation is often utilized. The full restoration of the original forest ecosystem, however, can take several decades. The present study was conducted to identify the missing key components for rehabilitation of a degraded plot of land in Thailand on which Acacia trees were planted 18 or 19 years ago. Canopy spectral and soil physicochemical profiles of the Acacia plantation plot showed more advanced rehabilitation than in the soil microbial functions, as represented by soil dehydrogenase activity and community-level physiological profiles, when compared with those of a natural evergreen forest. The slower restoration of the soil microbial functions was thought to: (1) be attributed to the loss of certain microbes that played important roles in the evergreen forest soil, and (2) restrict the restoration of the entire forest ecosystem which was found to be still progressing towards a full restoration of the land’s original conditions. Finally, possible measures for further rehabilitation of the ecosystem were discussed.