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Landfill restoration and biodiversity: A case of study in Northern Italy

Waste Management & Research

Abstract

Landfilling is a worldwide common waste treatment method. Final recovery usually consists of capping the area with top soil on which vegetation can grow. Depending on the suitability of the recovery pattern, landfill sites can work as potential reserve of semi-natural habitats. A recovery pattern applied to land reclamation of two hazardous waste landfills sited in Northern Italy (Po floodplain) was studied to assess the results in terms of biodiversity. These landfills lie within a landscape dominated by intensive agriculture. After final sealing, both landfills were covered by soil on which a meadow was sown and a hedgerow was planted around the borders. One of the compared areas was not provided with a pond and the hedgerow was incomplete. Butterflies and birds were used as indicators, and their seasonal abundance was related to habitat structure and ecological factors. Meadows grown on both areas supported a rich butterfly population (30 species), including some species that are by now uncommon in the Po floodplain. In both areas butterfly abundance was affected by summer drought. The birds' community included 57 species; 16 Species of European Conservation Concern (SPECs) were observed. Each bird community was different in the compared study areas because of their different size and habitat structure. For example, landfill A, provided with a pond and a more complex structure of the hedgerow, supported a richer birds community (52 species versus 39). Both restored landfills worked well as a stepping stone for migratory birds, but they were a reproductive habitat of poor quality.

Author(s): Camerini, G; Groppali, R

Journal: Waste Management & Research

Year: 2014

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