The threshold between natural recovery and the need for artificial restoration in degraded lands in Fujian Province, China
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- Ma, H., Wang, Y., Yue, H. et al. Environ Monit Assess (2013) 185: 8639. doi:10.1007/s10661-013-3200-9
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Whether to use artificial restoration or to allow natural recovery of degraded land has been an important topic in restoration ecology because of the need to determine the most appropriate way to restore degraded lands that have suffered from serious soil erosion. To identify the threshold between a need for artificial restoration and the possibility of natural recovery, we analyzed the vegetation cover, soil fertility parameters, erosion modulus, and runoff coefficient in 32 plots with different vegetation covers in China’s Fujian province from 1999 to 2009. In our study, 20 % vegetation cover appeared to be the threshold between natural recovery and artificial restoration. When vegetation cover dropped below 20 %, it was difficult to stabilize the original ecological structure and functions based on natural recovery mechanisms, and artificial restoration was needed. By monitoring sites to detect when vegetation cover is approaching this threshold, local managers could determine whether natural or assisted recovery represents the most appropriate strategy for ecological restoration.