Rehabilitation of Semiarid Landscapes in Australia. II. Restoring Vegetation Patches
Article first published online: 7 APR 2006
Volume 4, Issue 4, pages 398–406, December 1996
How to Cite
Ludwig, J. A. and Tongway, D.J. (1996), Rehabilitation of Semiarid Landscapes in Australia. II. Restoring Vegetation Patches. Restoration Ecology, 4: 398–406. doi: 10.1111/j.1526-100X.1996.tb00192.x
- Issue published online: 7 APR 2006
- Article first published online: 7 APR 2006
This paper describes a practical technique, tested experimentally, for rehabilitating degraded semiarid landscapes in Australia. This rehabilitation technique is based on the ecological principle that semiarid landscapes are spatially organized as patchy, source-sink systems; this patchy organization functions to conserve limited water and nutrients within the system. The aim was to rebuild vegetation patchiness, lost through decades of utilization of these landscapes as rangelands. Patches were reconstructed from large tree branches and shrubs obtained locally and placed in elongated piles along contours. These piles of branches were very effective in recreating productive soil patches within the landscape, as described in part I of this study. These new patchy habitats promoted the establishment and growth of perennial grasses. Although the foliage cover of these grasses declined into a drought, which started before the end of the experiment, plant survivorship remained high. This suggests that patches also function as refugia for organisms during droughts. The patches of branches remained robust and functional, even under grazing impacts, although plant growth and survival were significantly higher within an ungrazed paddock than in a grazed paddock.