Authors: Haagner, ASH; Kellner, K; Tongway, DJ


DOI https://doi.org/10.36487/ACG_repo/852_75

Cite As:
Haagner, ASH, Kellner, K & Tongway, DJ 2008, 'Enhancing Conventional Rehabilitation Monitoring in South Africa by Adding Landscape Function Characteristics', in AB Fourie, M Tibbett, I Weiersbye & P Dye (eds), Mine Closure 2008: Proceedings of the Third International Seminar on Mine Closure, Australian Centre for Geomechanics, Perth, pp. 809-820, https://doi.org/10.36487/ACG_repo/852_75

Download citation as:   ris   bibtex   endnote   text   Zotero


Abstract:
South African legislation requires mines to address all residual pollutant impacts and to initiate an end land- use that conforms to the concept of sustainable development, before they can be considered for closure. The conventional vegetation for gold tailings in South Africa involves grass planting into ameliorated tailings, and is primarily used for dust control and stabilization. This herbaceous layer has only recently received focus as an asset for closure and sustainable land-use. In addition, the conventional criteria used to demonstrate erosion control and persistence by this vegetation on gold tailings, such as grass basal cover and species number, may also be insufficient for closure purposes. Landscape function analysis (LFA) is a means of assessing the functionality of rehabilitated sites in terms of their ability to retain mobile resources, and relies upon measures of substrate stability, infiltration and nutrient cycling. LFA may complement or replace conventional vegetation sampling for species and composition. LFA indices are considered to reliably represent the ecological status of a rehabilitated site as they include measures of ecosystem function. We used LFA to assess the sustainability of vegetation on a chronosequence of rehabilitation sites at two gold tailings storage facilities. The surveys were conducted over two growth seasons to determine the temporal and spatial resource availability patterns, linked to seasonal changes in vegetation structure, function and composition. Sample sites were characterized on a continuum from least to most functional landscapes, and compared in terms of vegetation cover, species composition and substrate properties. The indices of landscape function were consistent across the continuum, as was landscape organization, an index of the leakiness of a landscape. Results showed that it was still too early for LFA or vegetation monitoring to predict rehabilitation trajectories, but did show that rehabilitation progress in even the oldest sites was still in its very early stages. The main limiting functionality indices were nutrient cycling and infiltration, both which required greater litter deposition and biological activity to enhance function. This was supported by litter and perennial vegetation cover being most significant in separating the more functional from less functional sites. There were no clear relationships between rehabilitation age, landscape function and plant community development, with both techniques showing the rehabilitation to be in early successional stages. LFA, in combination with vegetation monitoring, has the potential to anticipate landscape deterioration at an early stage on tailings, and to guide the most effective ameliorative actions. Although LFA is not widely used as a tool for monitoring rehabilitation of tailings in South Africa, this project illustrates that it does hold potential for assessing the functionality of rehabilitation for closure purposes.

References:
Andreasen, J.K. and O’Neill, R.V. (2001) Considerations for the development of a terrestrial index of ecological
integrity. Ecological Indicators 1, pp. 21-35.
Aronson, J. and Le Floc’h, E. (1996) Vital landscape attributes: missing tools for restoration ecology. Restoration
Ecology 4, pp. 377-387.
Aronson, J., Clewell, A.F., Blignaut, J.N. and Milton, S.J. (2006) Ecological restoration: a new frontier for nature
conservation and economics. Journal for Nature Conservation 14, pp. 135-139.
Barnhisel, R.I. and Rower, J.M. (1997) Coal surface mine reclamation in the Eastern United States: The revegetation of
disturbed lands to hayland/pasture or cropland. Advances in Agronomy 61, pp. 233-275.
Bell, L.C. (2001) Establishment of native ecosystems after mining – Australian experience across diverse biogeographic
zones. Ecological Engineering 17, pp. 377-387.
Chamber of Mines of South Africa/Coaltech (2007) Guidelines for the rehabilitation of mined land. Accessed 2 June
2008. .
Chilean Copper Commission (COHILCO) (2002) Research on mine closure policy. International Institute for
Environment and Development: Mining Minerals and Sustainable Development. Accessed 2 June 2008.
.
De Angelis, D.L., Mulholland, P.J., Palumbo, A.V., Steinman, A.D., Huston, M.A. and Elwood, J.W. (1989) Nutrient
dynamics and food web stability. Annual Review of Ecological Systematics 20, pp. 71-95.
Fourie, A. and Brent, A.C. (2006) A project-based Mine Closure Model (MCM) for sustainable asset life cycle
management. Journal of Cleaner Production 14(12), pp. 1085-1095.
Herrick, J.E., Schuman, G.E. and Rango, A. (2006) Monitoring ecological processes for restoration projects. Journal for
Nature Conservation 14, pp. 161-171.
Ludwig, J.A., Wilcox, B.P., Breshears, D.D., Tongway, D.J. and Imeson, A.C. (2005) Vegetation patches and runoff-
erosion as interacting ecohydrological processes in semiarid landscapes. Ecology 86, pp. 288-297.
Marais, M., van Deventer, P.W. and van Wyk, S.J. (2006) Closure of the Stilfontein Gold Mine. Proceedings of the 1st
International Symposium on Mine Closure. Australian Centre for Geomechanics, Perth, Australia, pp. 261-267.
Minerals and Petroleum Resources Development Act, No. 28 of 2002 (2002) Government Gazette 26275. Government
Printers, Pretoria, South Africa.
Mucina, L. and Rutherford, M.C. (eds) (2006) The Vegetation of South Africa, Lesotho and Swaziland. Strelitzia 19,
South African National Biodiversity Institute, Pretoria, South Africa.
Mueller-Dombois, D. and Ellenberg, G.H. (1974) Aims and methods of vegetation ecology, John Wiley and Sons,
pp. 110-115.
O’Connor, T.G. and Kuyler, P. (2006) National Grasslands Initiative: identification of compatible land-uses for
maintaining biodiversity integrity. Mining Addendum. Report for SANBI’s National Grasslands Biodiversity
Programme. www.sanbi.org. 40 p.
Ross, K.A., Taylor, J.E., Fox, M.D. and Fox, B.J. (2004) Interaction of multiple disturbances: importance of disturbance
interval in the effects of fire on rehabilitated mined areas. Journal of Austral Ecology 29(5), pp. 508-529.
Roux, P.W. (1963) The descending-point method of vegetation survey. A point sampling-method for the measurement
of semi-open grassland and Karoo vegetation in South Africa. South African Journal of Agricultural Science 6,
pp. 273-288.
Tongway, D.J., Hindley, N., Ludwig, J., Kearns, A. and Barnett, G. (1997) Early indicators of ecosystem rehabilitation
on selected mine sites. Proceedings of the 22nd Annual Minerals Council of Australia Environmental Workshop,
Adelaide, pp. 494-505. Minerals Council of Australia, Canberra, Australia.
Tongway, D.J. and Hindley, N. (2004) Landscape Function Analysis: procedures for monitoring and assessing
landscapes with special reference to minesites and rangelands. CSIRO, Australia.
Van Wyk, S.J. (2002) An analytical investigation of the biophysical factors that inhibit successful ecological restoration
of gold tailings dams. M.Env.Sci Thesis, North-West University.




© Copyright 2022, Australian Centre for Geomechanics (ACG), The University of Western Australia. All rights reserved.
Please direct any queries or error reports to repository-acg@uwa.edu.au