Ecology of Post-mining Sites in Lower Lusatia

Open-cast mining affects many ecosystems. Surface mining activities are often large scale disturbances, which affects entire landscapes and ecosystem processes. Those reclaimed ecosystems undergo long time periods of succession for full recovery. These initial soils, consisting of excavated and dumped material, are characterized by a high vulnerability to erosion, low water holding capacity, lack of nutrients, low pH or sparse vegetation. Such harsh human impacts create the need for remediation and restoration measures for mining regions that address classical food and fodder services and also nature conservation and novel social benefits. Recultivation therefore offers the opportunity to introduce new land-use types and to study processes of initial ecosystem development that are still poorly understood.

Ecology of post-mining-sitesDevelopment of biodiversityEcosystem development of reclaimed post-mining sitesDevelopment of new ecosystemsEcosystem development of post-mining sitesLignite-mining in Lower Lusatia (Welzow Süd)

ANFOREK - Applied research for reclamation of post-mining sites in the Lusatian lignite mining district

Objective of the research project ANFOREK is the understanding of ecosystem functioning of reclaimed post-mining sites in the Lusatian lignite mining district. Reclamation measures will be investigated and evaluate with the aim to improve the ecosystem processes in reclaimed post-mining sites.

In general, the newly created landscapes can be regarded as an ecosystem at the point zero with drastic changes in topography, hydrology and biogeochemical processes compared to the original ecosystem. The dumped overburden material has little or no recent soil organic matter, low nutrient content and low water holding capacity. Planting trees is a common measure in reclamation practices on post-mining to restore ecosystem functioning and land-use of degraded landscapes. Our research focus is on fast-growing trees, mainly on black locust (Robinia pseudoacacia) and to some extent hybrid-poplars and aspen (Populus spec.). Ecophysiological measurments in combination with growth analysis will provide more informations for better managment and application of fast-growing trees at reclaimed post-mining sites. 

  • Short-rotation forestry at reclaimed post-mining sites
  • Ecosystem services
  • Ecosystem development

Funded by LEAG - Lausitzer Energie- und Bergbau AG, Cottbus.
Since 2017 - ongoing

Ecology of Robinia pseudoacacia at post-mining sites

This high ecological plasticity makes Robinia an alternative tree species for reclamation of post-mining sites in the Lusatia region (Brandenburg, Germany), especially in areas, where agricultural crop production comes to its limits. Aftermaths in those areas include nutrients scarcity and water limitation due to relatively low soil water holding capacity and deep groundwater table, which magnified the drought effect on the primary production and plant survival during drought periods in late-spring and summer. Therefore, the establishment of forests, short-rotation copices and agroforestry systems instead of conventional agricultural production with annual crops is an alternative land-use form for this area. Hereby, black locust becomes a key species on such recultivated areas, for enanching the soil fertility due its capability of symbiotic biological nitrogen fixation. Further the importance of Rhizobia association on the resilience of the species to overcome unfavorable edaphic condition is an additional advantage in such degraded ecosystems. 


Ecosystem development at post-mining sites

Ecosystems are characterized as complex systems with abiotic and biotic processes interacting between the various components that have evolved over long-term periods. Most ecosystem studies so far have been carried out in mature systems. Only limited knowledge exists on the very initial phase of ecosystem development. Concepts on the development of ecosystems are often based on assumptions and extrapolations with respect to structure–process interactions in the initial stage. To characterize the effect of this initial phase on structure and functioning of ecosystems in later stages, it is necessary to disentangle the close interaction of spatial and temporal patterns of ecosystem structural assemblages with processes of ecosystem development. The study of initial, less complex systems could help to better identify and characterize coupled patterns and processes.

© Maik Veste 2018 - Update 05JAN2018                                          Impressum