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Solid Earth An interactive open-access journal of the European Geosciences Union
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Volume 7, issue 5
Solid Earth, 7, 1479-1489, 2016
https://doi.org/10.5194/se-7-1479-2016
© Author(s) 2016. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License.
Solid Earth, 7, 1479-1489, 2016
https://doi.org/10.5194/se-7-1479-2016
© Author(s) 2016. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License.

Research article 26 Oct 2016

Research article | 26 Oct 2016

Effects of topsoil treatments on afforestation in a dry Mediterranean climate (southern Spain)

Paloma Hueso-González, Juan Francisco Martínez-Murillo, and Jose Damian Ruiz-Sinoga Paloma Hueso-González et al.
  • Department of Geography, University of Málaga, Soil and Geomorphology Institute (IGSUMA), Andalucía Tech. Campus de Teatinos s/n, 29071, Málaga, Spain

Abstract. Afforestation programs in semiarid areas are associated with a high level of sapling mortality. Therefore, the development of alternative low-cost and low-environmental-impact afforestation methods that ensure the survival of seedlings is crucial for improving the efficiency of Mediterranean forest management. This study assessed the effects of five types of soil amendments on the afforestation success (e.g., plant growth and survival) of a Mediterranean semiarid area. The amendments tested were (i) straw mulch; (ii) mulch containing chipped branches of Aleppo pine (Pinus halepensis L.); (iii) sheep manure compost; (iv) sewage sludge from a wastewater treatment plant; and (v) TerraCottem hydroabsorbent polymer. We hypothesized that in the context of dry Mediterranean climatic conditions, the use of organic amendments would enhance plant establishment and ensure successful afforestation. The results showed that afforestation success varied among the various soil amendment treatments in the experimental plots. The amendments had no effect on soil organic carbon, pH, or salinity, but the results indicated that the addition of mulch or hydroabsorbent polymer can reduce transplant stress by increasing the soil water available for plant growth throughout the hydrological year, and potentially improve the success of afforestation by reducing plant mortality.

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The development of alternative low-cost and low-environmental-impact revegetation methods is necessary for the effective management of Mediterranean forest environments. This research assessed the effects of five types of soil amendment on the success of afforestation processes. In terms of land management, the study shows that the addition of mulch or hydroabsorbent polymer can reduce transplanting stress and improve the success of afforestation programs.
The development of alternative low-cost and low-environmental-impact revegetation methods is...
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