ROADSIDE REVEGETATION

An Integrated Approach to Establishing Native Plants and Pollinator Habitat

3.1 Introduction

Careful planning is essential to the success of any roadside revegetation project. There are a series of steps that are important to consider in developing a comprehensive revegetation plan. These are shown in Table 3-1 and outlined in this chapter.

Table 3-1 | Planning Phase Steps

Activity

Definition

Defining revegetation objectives

Description of the general purpose and goals of the road project as determined by societal, ecological, and transportation needs, environmental regulations, and other factors. Development of revegetation objectives, including pollinator habitat enhancement, erosion control, water quality enhancement, weed control, and carbon sequestration.

Gathering pre-field information

Prior to field surveys, the review of reports and websites that describe soils, vegetation, climate, and pollinators for the project area.

Defining revegetation units

Classification of areas within the project site that are similar enough to be appropriate for similar strategies and treatments. Homogenous sites will have only a few units; sites with greater diversity (different soil types, microclimates, vegetation types, and management needs) will have more revegetation units. Each revegetation unit should be distinct in terms of ecology, management requirements, or both.

Identifying reference sites

Location of natural or revegetated areas that will serve as models for desirable recovery of native plant communities and pollinator habitat. One or more reference sites are identified for each revegetation unit in the project area.

Gathering field information

Survey of reference sites, as well as the road project area, for vegetation, soils, climate, and pollinator habitat that will provide baseline ecological data for developing the revegetation plan.

Defining the desired future condition (DFC) target

Creation of specific, measurable goals for each revegetation unit, usually defined in terms of the percentage of vegetative cover, ground cover, species composition, plant growth, plant density, and pollinator diversity and abundance.

Identifying limiting factors to plant establishment

Review of pre-field and field information to determine which site factors may be limiting for plant growth based on water input, water storage, water loss, nutrient cycling, surface stability and slope stability.

Identifying factors that affect pollinators

Review of pre-field and field information to identify the limiting factors affecting pollinators. These include nectar and pollen sources, breeding habitat, water sources, shelter, landscape connectivity, nesting habitat, and vegetation management.

Inventory of site resources

Assessing physical resources that may be available or generated for use in the revegetation plan. These resources include topsoil, duff, litter, woody materials, logs, and plant materials

Developing a vegetation management strategy

A maintenance strategy is developed to assess how the revegetation project will affect the management and maintenance of the roadside after the road project has been completed and integrate this into the revegetation plan. Ideally, the planning team or designer meets with local maintenance personnel, to learn what problems can be expected in reestablishing roadsides with native plants.

Selecting site improvement treatments

The treatments that will improve the site for plant growth or pollinator enhancement are selected.

Selecting plant species for propagation

Native plant species that will be used on the project are selected based on project objectives and how well they will perform on the site. Genetic diversity and local adaptation is considered in the reproductive sources that will be used to propagate the plant materials.

Selecting plant establishment methods

Optimal propagation methods are determined for each plant species. These include the plant materials that will be produced (seeds, cuttings, plants), the method of plant material installation, and when to install the plant materials (seeding and planting windows).

Developing a revegetation plan

A written revegetation plan captures the most important information and decisions that were made on revegetating the project site. It typically outlines project objectives, revegetation units, treatments, plant species, planting methods, roles, responsibilities, timelines, and budget.