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Keywords:

  • calcium;
  • catchment liming;
  • heathlands;
  • moorland pools;
  • Red List plant species;
  • restoration

Abstract

Current restoration measures of degraded, acidified heathland ecosystems have not always been successful in the Netherlands. Positive effects of a restored hydrology are often counteracted by acidification of the soil and the local groundwater system. Liming of the heathlands in the catchment of moorland pools might contribute to the restoration of both habitats. Experimental catchment liming was carried out in two degraded Dutch heathlands, with doses varying between 2 and 6 tons/ha. Catchment liming resulted in increased pH and base cation concentrations in the highest elevated limed parts, as well as in the lower situated, nonlimed heath areas and moorland pools. Generally, catchment liming created suitable conditions for the return of heathland target species, and the positive effects lasted for at least 6 years. The response of the heathland vegetation to the liming has, however, been slow because only a small number of endangered plant species increased in abundance. In contrast, four Red List soft-water macrophytes strongly increased in abundance in the moorland pool. Our results show that, even with the slow return of Red List plant species, catchment liming can be a successful management tool for the restoration of the acidified heathland landscape.