Efforts are being made to restore abandoned mine lands.
The Korea Forest Research Institute (KFRI, headed by Dr. YOON Young-Kyoon) said on 29 May 2014 that that the KFRI succeeded in restoring abandoned mine lands with eco-friendly techniques using microorganisms.
In Korea, 394 out of 400 coal mines closed down and various problems such as landscape damage, land subsidence and loss of coal mine spoils have arisen as result of accumulated coal debris.
So far the activities for restoring abandoned mine mainly consisted of soil-dressing, soil-covering and seed spray methods. As these methods were directly applied to the slopes, it has been very difficult to secure suitable soil and even caused further damages to the surrounding environment. Furthermore, plants suffered from dry damages because they could not root deeply enough to survive.
Researchers at the KFRI injected microorganism called Pisolithus tinctorius into lime and compound fertilizers soil made from top soil of bare root seedlings of Pinus densiflora. They confirmed that, eight years after the initial injection, seedlings which used to be only 13cm grew up to 200cm, whereas the seedlings of the control group reached only 80cm.
This is because Pisolithus tinctorius facilitated absorption of water and nutrients from coal mine spoils, thus by increasing their growth by 2.8 folds.
The existing restoration method needed 600 fifteen-ton truck-load of soil per ha and cost over 70,000 USD. However, this new method costs only 10,000 USD for application, which showed about 85% reduction, and no additional damage to forest land is needed.
The KFRI anticipates that the application of this new method for restoring abandoned mind lands will significantly contribute to reducing costs and enabling early-restoration.
In line with this, the Korea Forest Service is planning to make amendments to the relevant regulations to allow plantation of pine trees (Pinus densiflora) directly on the abandoned mine lands without having to go through a soil-covering process prior to planting. Further research on the development of remediation techniques using plant species will be carried out.
Source: Korea Forest Research Institute
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