Surface mining and mine reclamation practices have caused significant forest loss and forest fragmentation in Appalachia. Shortleaf pine (Pinus echinata) is threatened by a variety of stresses, including diseases, pests, poor management, altered fire regimes, and climate change, and the species is the subject of a widescale restoration effort. Surface mines may present opportunity for shortleaf pine restoration; however, the survival and growth of shortleaf pine on these harsh sites has not been critically evaluated. This paper presents first-year survival and growth of native shortleaf pine planted on a reclaimed surface mine, compared to non-native loblolly pine (Pinus taeda), which has been highly successful in previous mined land reclamation plantings. Pine monoculture plots are also compared to pine-hardwood polyculture plots to evaluate effects of planting mix on tree growth and survival, as well as soil health. Initial survival of shortleaf pine is low (42%), but height growth is similar to that of loblolly pine. No differences in survival or growth were observed between monoculture and polyculture treatments. Additional surveys in coming years will address longer-term growth and survival patterns of these species, as well as changes to relevant soil health endpoints, such as soil carbon.
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This project was partially funded by a Sustainability Challenge Grant from the Tracey Farmer Institute for Sustainability and the Environment (TFISE); additional funds were provided by the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation (NFWF) through the Appalachian Forest Renewal Initiative. Participation by undergraduate students from University of North Carolina was generously funded by Brad Stanback and Shelli Lodge-Stanback.
Bell, Geoffrey; Sena, Kenton L.; Barton, Christopher D.; and French, Michael, "Establishing Pine Monocultures and Mixed Pine-Hardwood Stands on Reclaimed Surface Mined Land in Eastern Kentucky: Implications for Forest Resilience in a Changing Climate" (2017). Forestry and Natural Resources Faculty Publications. 17.