COS 56-9 - An innovative approach to regenerate marginal or mine reclaimed land, support biodiversity, and generate multiple benefits through integrated earth stewardship plan

Wednesday, August 10, 2011: 10:50 AM
6B, Austin Convention Center
Nina Sengupta, The Wilds, OH, USA & Auroville, Tamil Nadu, India, Evan S. Blumer, The Wilds, OH & New Harvest Ventures, Gahana, OH, USA, Nicole D. Cavender, Science and Conservation, The Morton Arboretum, Lisle, OH and David Wilhelm, New Harvest Ventures, OH, USA

Today we are faced with multiple challenges at global scale including: mitigation of climate change, loss of biodiversity, development of alternative forms of energy, restoration of damaged ecosystems, and generating economic benefits, ideally for least developed areas. The land-use needs of approaches to these challenges are further in conflict with production agriculture, leading to best-use questions for limited land resources. Since the problems we face are multi-pronged, the solution also needs to be integrated, innovative, and multi-disciplinary. We propose an earth-stewardship system that develops carbon, ecosystem, energy, food, and other services (CEEFS) on lands that are otherwise considered less than ideal – such as the mine reclaimed land.  Most such degraded and disturbed land typically exist in economically disadvantaged regions of the world – making a multi-pronged ecological land use practices essential for providing decentralized economic opportunities, as well as ecosystem services and energy prospects. In the USA, the substantial, previously mined lands of the Appalachian region fall under this category.


What we propose is an integrated land-use strategy where such marginal and mine-reclaimed lands are regenerated to restore their ecological functions and support biodiversity, and simultaneously to provide CEEFS services consistent with the economic needs of the region. Through a three-year long research experiment, we have learned that in Appalachian Ohio, mine reclaimed land can be restored initially by establishing diverse and hardy prairie species and other native vegetation. Once it establishes, root systems will sequesters CO2 equivalent (CO2e) and start the soil building process. The above-ground vegetation typically needs to be harvested and can be put into multipurpose use including grazing animals, feedstock for energy, and/or intensively sequester CO2e through converting plant mass to biochar and adding back to the soil. A more complete land-use strategy has also been proposed where "prairie-community" plantings, optimized for CEEFS services, will be integrated into a utility-scale solar PV installation, enhancing the sustainable development potential in the area while continuing to restore the land.

Copyright © . All rights reserved.
Banner photo by Flickr user greg westfall.