• Indonesia, birds, mining restoration, tropical restoration, Acacia mangium, species richness, individual abundance, species diversity


Bird species richness and individual abundances were recorded in old, unrestored tin strip mine plots, in mined plots restored 1, 2, and 3 years before the study, and in adjacent, unmined, natural secondary forest plots on the 11,340-km2 Indonesian island of Bangka (2°S, 106°E). The objective was to assess the ecological recovery of unrestored and minimally restored mine plots compared with surrounding reference forest. Unrestored mines had not been mined or used for any other purpose for 14–30 years; plots in their first, second, and third year since restoration were old mines planted with Acacia mangium (Leguminosae) at a density of 400 trees/ha. Natural secondary forest plots 20 or more years since the last disturbance were immediately adjacent to both unrestored and restored plots. Bird surveys on 4-ha plots were performed during the 1995 breeding season. A comparison of data from unrestored plots of widely varying ages showed no significant differences among them for species richness, diversity (Shannon–Wiener index, H′), or individual abundance, indicating that little natural bird community recovery had occurred over time in the plots. However, increases did occur in restored sites over only 3 years for both species richness (r 2= 0.29, p = 0.04) and diversity (r 2= 0.45, p = 0.009). All values for third-year restored plots, however, were still significantly lower than corresponding values for adjacent natural secondary forest plots. The quick return of bird activity on the plots after minimal efforts at restoration supports the idea that simple, inexpensive restoration can be effective for “jump starting” degraded systems at large scales. Such a restoration strategy might be of particular value for degraded land in developing nations, where scientific, professional, and financial resources might be in short supply. Using this strategy, a small number of restoration professionals could mobilize the labor of many local people in many areas, serving to both improve ecological systems and to educate and engage local populations in restoration and conservation projects.