Rehabilitation of mine sites

The Use of Native Grass in Mine Rehabilitation

The Importance of Indigenous Grasses for Mining Revegetation Programs

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Mine rehabilitation is not easy, but it is doable. Mining, or any other type of disruptive earthwork, always leaves damages on the area where it was done. Thus, it has sparked a need to rejuvenate the said area with the appropriate variety of plant species. However, the people’s intention of knowing the species of the plants only aim to finalise their vegetation, instead of considering the ecological processes and progressive stages that occur on the site upon plant colonisation. People often forget that forests don’t simply grow in a day. It takes a lot of development and meticulous growth for it to flourish.

The adoption of sound ecological restoration practices should be one of the main priorities. To be able to do so, one must follow a chronological process that would offer a variety of benefits to the area of rehabilitation. The initial step to mine site rehabilitation should involve the colonisers, or the primary successor species of plants that will primarily cover the land. They should be prepared for the next species that will stimulate the soil condition for the final or climax species of plant life. Starting with the climax species will not build a proper and healthy vegetation community for the area.

It is not ideal to start the rehabilitation using tree species for a variety of reasons. Trees do not cover majority of the ground, which will only expose it to soil erosions. Also, the first few years of rehabilitation will only result in losses, if trees are the initial plants to be placed. There will be no small insects and micro-fauna that could successfully support the trees, which will only result in the premature death of the forest.

The preliminary step in mine rehabilitation should focus on the ground. By zeroing in on this aspect of the forest, it could actually help control soil erosion and stabilising the site. It will also prepare the soil for the next species of plants. The primary revegetation species’ best candidate is the grass. This is due to its ease of growth, competitiveness over majority of weeds, promotion of soil health, excellence at providing soil stability, and growth over a broad range of soil type. Native grasses have more beneficial outcomes and they actually promote the activity of local microbes and micro-flora.

For better tolerance for local environmental changes, it is much more feasible to sow native grass on the site. Indigenous plants have greatly shown their resilience against local bacteria and fungi, which helps reinstate the previous conditions of the mine and aid in the development of higher successor of plant species.

Using native or indigenous grasses should be the initial step towards the revegetation of mining sites. If you have any questions regarding this, please feel free to contact us.