Best practice—Is natural revegetation sufficient to achieve mitigation goals in road construction?
Peer reviewed, Journal article
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Aims: The area influenced by road construction is large, and measures to re-establish vegetation in disturbed areas are routinely carried out to reduce impacts on biodiversity. However, goals of mitigation measures are often unclear, and the effects on biodiversity of mitigation measures is rarely monitored. We assessed the effects of different revegetation treatments (natural revegetation, seeding, planting) on vegetation development along highways, and on wildlife crossings of different age. Location: Highways in southeast Norway. Methods: We collected data on vascular plant species, vegetation cover and height, soil grain size and organic matter content, and compared the species composition, richness, and diversity of the restored sites with reference plots in the adjacent target vegetation (mature forest). Results: Our results show a significantly higher richness and diversity in restored plots compared to reference plots, and an increased similarity of species composition over time. Species composition was most similar to reference plots in naturally revegetated plots and seeding seemed to reduce both species and functional trait composition similarity. Conclusions: It is unrealistic that the defined target vegetation will develop on restored sites. Defining a realistic and achievable target vegetation for each road construction project in relation to land use, adjacent vegetation type and successional stage, as e.g., forest edge instead of forest, would be useful. While this may require more effort for management it will translate to higher mitigation success. ecological restoration, mitigation measures, natural recovery, revegetation, road construction, vegetation development