Topsoil transfer from natural renosterveld to degraded old fields facilitates native vegetation recovery
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The transfer of soils from intact vegetation communities to degraded ecosystems is seen as a promising restoration tool aimed at facilitating vegetation recovery. This study examined how topsoil transfer from intact renosterveld to degraded old fields improves vegetation diversity, cover, and composition. Transferred topsoil were overlaid on 30 quadrats, each measuring 1 m(2), in May 2009. Eight years following the initial soil transfer, vegetation diversity in the soil transfer site showed an increase towards the natural site compared to the old field site where no soil transfer was administered. Both species richness and cover for trees and shrubs in the soil transfer site increased towards the natural site, though this was not the case for herbs and grasses. One-way analysis of similarity (ANOSIM) showed significant (R = 0.55) separation in community composition between sites. The study concludes that soil transfer from intact renosterveld to degraded old fields is a promising restoration technique because it increases species diversity and cover and facilitates vegetation recovery. A significant restoration implication of this study is that soil transfer introduces key renosterveld native tree and shrub species that can facilitate successful restoration and act as restoration foci or nurse plants.