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The Ridgefield Multiple Ecosystem Services Experiment: Can restoration of former agricultural land achieve multiple outcomes?

Perring, M. P., R. J. Standish, K. B. Hulvey, L. Lach, T. K. Morald, R. Parsons, R. K. Didham and R. J. Hobbs. 2012. Agriculture, Ecosystems & Environment


The ability of restoration approaches to provide valued ecosystem services needs to be assessed. The emerging carbon market provides an incentive to afforest agricultural landscapes and could potentially achieve multiple outcomes. However, planting monocultures for carbon sequestration may preclude effective delivery of other ecosystem services. Here, we describe the rationale behind the Ridgefield Multiple Ecosystem Services Experiment, a long-term investigation into trade-offs that might prevent the simultaneous provision of high levels of multiple services in the agricultural landscape of south-western Australia. We compare a monoculture treatment of a fast growing native species (Eucalyptus loxophleba) with mixtures of 2, 4 or 8 native plant species. We selected species based on different traits that we predict will relate to the provision of different levels of multiple ecosystem services. We ask: Can restoration of multiple ecosystem services be achieved along with carbon sequestration? Nested treatments of nitrogen deposition and weed removal test whether ecosystem service outcomes respond to environmental changes. We show that historical land-use at the site has the potential to affect service delivery via different soil characteristics and survival of planted species. Ridgefield tests the possibility of restoring and managing agricultural landscapes for multiple ecosystem services, providing a much needed experimental investigation of trade-offs among ecosystem functions.

Key Words

Carbon sequestration, Global change, Novel ecosystem, Old-field, Plant trait approach, Ecosystem service trade-offs