U.S. Department of Agriculture: Forest Service -- National Agroforestry Center



David N. Cole

Date of this Version



Published in Restoration Ecology Vol. 15, No. 3, pp. 430–439, September 2007.


This study experimented with common restoration techniques (scarification, soil amendments, mulch, and seeding) on six closed wilderness campsites in subalpine forests in Oregon. Effectiveness in encouraging seedling establishment, growth, and survival was assessed every year for the first 7 years following treatment. Closure and restoration of the campsites increased the density of plants established from seed. Despite an original density of virtually zero, mean density of perennial plants was 55 plants/m2 7 years after closure. All the treatments, with the exception of the biodegradable mulch mat, increased plant density. Seven years after treatment, seeding had increased plant density 5-fold, whereas scarification and soil amendments (organic matter, compost, and soil inoculum) had each increased density 3-fold. The organic and compost amendments also had the positive benefit of increasing growth rates and shortening the time-to-reproductive maturity. Results suggest that restoration of the herbaceous cover on these campsites can occur rapidly using the techniques employed. All but one of the species we seeded established in substantial quantities and survived at densities exceeding their density in the naturally sparse herbaceous cover on these sites. Thirty-six perennial species volunteered on these sites. The remaining challenge is reestablishment of the shrub species that comprise much of the ground cover in these forests. These species seldom establish from seed.