Effects of establishing an artificial grassland on vegetation characteristics and soil quality in a degraded meadow

Wang, C. T., et al., 2013. Israel Journal of Ecology & Evolution

Original research (primary data)
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Grassland restoration, which utilizes agricultural practices (e.g., ploughing, harrowing, and fertilization), can not only change ecosystem processes to support the survival of native plants but can also affect soil microbial biomass and activity. In an artificial grassland established to restore a degraded meadow, parameters including coverage, species richness, diversity, and biomass (including above-and below-ground biomass) generally increased after four years of restoration. Likewise, soil organic matter (SOM), total nitrogen (N), available N, total phosphorus (P), and available P exhibited the same trend. The activities of selected enzymes decreased with soil depth (P < 0.05) and increased during the successional process associated with restoration. Soil enzyme activities were related to the physico-chemical characteristics of the soil and plant primary production. After four years of restoration, the plants and soils were resilient to the grassland restoration process. The results of the present study suggest a significant positive impact of artificial grassland establishment on soil quality. Artificial grassland establishment was an effective measure for restoring heavily degraded alpine meadows in the Qinghai-Tibetan Plateau region. The rapid establishment of vegetative cover and plant functional group composition after artificial grassland construction are fundamental for limiting soil erosion and restoring the initial ecosystem function. As soil is a fundamental component of every terrestrial ecosystem, soil restoration is a vital process during ecological restoration. Thus, an increase in the nutrient status of the soil is important for the sustainable development of alpine meadows. The long-term accumulation of SOM, the retention of nutrients, and the buildup of microbial biomass are ultimately attributed to labile carbon input from plant primary production.

Case studies

Basic information

  • Case ID: INT-160-1
  • Intervention type: Restoration
  • Intervention description:

    Establishment of artificial grasslands ...but not created habitat because further specify: the restoration and revegetation of degraded grasslands with cultivars of native species mixed E. nutans, F. sinensis, Eragrostis cilianensis, and P. crymophila (4:1:0.5:0.5) seeds (MS) were gradu- ally planted on heavily degraded grassland with a series of agronomic measures, such as ploughing and harrowing, with diammonium phosphate serving as the basal fertil- izer. The seeded grasslands were fertilized with urea at the jointing stage in the second year. Livestock was excluded from the reseeded plots in the first year, but not thereafter.

  • Landscape/sea scape ecosystem management: No
  • Climate change impacts Effect of Nbs on CCI Effect measures
    Reduced soil quality  Positive soil bulk density, pH, SOM (g/Kg), Total N (g/kg), Available N (g/Kg), Total and available P (mg/Kg), microbial biomass C, TOC, Soil enzyme activity
    Reduced water availability  Positive soil moisture (%)
    Biomass cover loss  Positive Above ground plant cover (%), mean plant height (cm), above ground biomass (g/m 2)
  • Approach implemented in the field: Yes
  • Specific location:

    Dawu and Wosai, Guoluo Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture, southeastern Qinghai Province, latitude 34 220 to 34 200 N, longitude 100 300 to 100 290 E.

  • Country: China
  • Habitat/Biome type: Montane/Alpine |
  • Issue specific term: Not applicable


  • Notes on intervention effectivness: effectiveness determined by comparing to a degraded/unrestored plot (control)
  • Is the assessment original?: Yes
  • Broadtype of intervention considered: Not applicable
  • Compare effectivness?: No
  • Compared to the non-NBS approach: Not applicable
  • Report greenhouse gas mitigation?: No
  • Impacts on GHG: Not applicable
  • Assess outcomes of the intervention on natural ecosystems: Yes
  • Impacts for the ecosystem: Positive
  • Ecosystem measures: plant species richness and Shannon-Wiener index, community composition
  • Assess outcomes of the intervention on people: No
  • Impacts for people: Not reported
  • People measures:
  • Considers economic costs: No
  • Economic appraisal conducted: No
  • Economic appraisal described:
  • Economic costs of alternative considered: No
  • Compared to an alternative: Not reported

Evaluation methodology

  • Type of data: Quantitative
  • Is it experimental: Yes
  • Experimental evalution done: In-situ/field
  • Non-experimental evalution done: Not applicable
  • Study is systematic: