The practice of mine reclamation aims to balance the energy needs of society with proactive environmental restoration of degraded land, and long-term studies of vegetative community development on reclaimed mine land have been invaluable in developing effective reclamation practices. This study investigated vegetative community characteristics (composition, richness, species importance)over a 30 year time frame in planted mixed pine-hardwood areas on reclaimed surface coal mine land in East Texas,United States. Reclaimed sites werecompared vegetatively to unmined reference forests. A chronological pattern wasshown for reclaimedcommunity developmentin both understory and overstorystrata. Understory community development exhibitednatural patterns, while theoverstory community varied with different groups of planted species. The olderreclaimed sites were most similar to unmined reference sites. Dissimilaritiesbetween mined and unmined communities were also apparent; for example, thewoody vine community of reference sites was much more substantial in midstoryand overstory strata as compared to reclaimed sites. Overall, this study providedbaseline ecological information about these plant communities that may assistland managers and researchers in furthering their development of reclamation techniques and attainment of reclamation goals.
Vegetative Community Development over 30 Years within Mixed Pine-Hardwood Mine Reclamation sites in east Texas