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Spontaneous Vegetation on Overburden Piles in the Coal Basin of Santa Catarina, Brazil

dos Santos, Robson, Citadini-Zanette, Vanilde, Leal-Filho, Laurindo S., Hennies, Wildor T.
Restoration ecology 2008 v.16 no.3 pp. 444-452
Baccharis, Clethra, Eucalyptus saligna, Eupatorium, Miconia, Myrsine, Tibouchina, basins, botanical composition, coal, ecological succession, forest restoration, forests, indigenous species, introduced species, natural regeneration, nutrients, pH, phytosociology, regrowth, shrubs, surveys, trees, vines, Brazil
The objective of this work was to select indigenous vegetal species for restoration programs aiming at the regeneration of ombrophilous dense forest. Thirty-five spoil piles located in the county of Sideropolis, Santa Catarina, that received overburden disposal for 39 years (1950-1989) were selected for study because they exhibited remarkable spontaneous regrowth of trees compared to surrounding spoil piles. Floristic inventory covered the whole area of the 35 piles, whereas survey on phytosociology and natural regeneration studies were conducted in 70 plots distributed along the 35 piles. Floristic inventory recorded 83 species from 28 botanical families. Herbaceous terricolous plants constituted the predominant species (47.0%), followed by shrubs (26.5%), trees (19.3%), and vines (7.2%). Results from surveys on phytosociology and natural regeneration, focused on shrubs and trees, recorded incipient ecological succession. In addition, the most adapted species recorded on the overburden piles, as ranked by index of natural regeneration (RNT) plus importance value index (IVI), were as follows: Clethra scabra (RNT = 23.93%; IVI = 17.28%), Myrsine coriacea (RNT = 20.93%, IVI = 11.26%), Eupatorium intermedium (RNT = 7.56%, IVI = 0.40%), Miconia ligustroides (RNT = 5.84%, IVI = 2.37%), Ossaea amygdaloides (RNT = 3.84%, IVI = 1.30%), Tibouchina sellowiana (RNT = 3.29%, IVI = 1.94%), Eup. inulaefolium (RNT = 2.65%, IVI = 0.80%), and Baccharis dracunculifolia (RNT = 2.28%; IVI = 0.56%). High values of IVI and RNT exhibited by the exotic species Eucalyptus saligna (IVI = 21.73%, RNT = 51.41%) indicated strong competition between exotic and indigenous species. Severe chemical (acidic pH and lack of nutrients) and physical (coarse substrate and slope angle of 40-50°) characteristics displayed by the overburden piles constituted limitations to floristic diversity and size of indigenous trees, indicating the need for substrate reclamation prior to forest restoration.