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The Use of Mitigation Plants in Restoration Planting
Many conditions will cause the natural landscape to experience imbalance or destruction, referred to here as a “disturbance event.” A disturbance event can occur through either natural or artificial phenomena. Examples of natural disturbance events include weather disasters, floods, pestilence, disease, and wildfires. Examples of synthetic disturbance events include farming, livestock grazing, logging, river damming, and urban development. Regardless of the cause, a disturbance event will likely alter the ecology structure and function of the affected landscape.
Ecosystems worldwide have been the focus of restoration efforts, with particular attention to wetlands, stream banks, watersheds, riparian areas, and forests. Restoration efforts can be accomplished through either natural restoration or active restoration. The physical restoration model anticipates the land will recover on its own; this takes time, and results are not assured. The dynamic restoration model requires human intervention in the land recovery to accelerate and oversee the balance of ecosystem recovery. This second model is accomplished through active restoration planting.
The Purpose of Restoration Planting
The primary purpose of restoration planting is to restore the land after a disturbance event through habitat replanting, stream bank support, field recovery, and erosion containment. Restoration efforts can be designed to restore the pre-disturbance ecosystem, such as in wetlands, stream bank, and forestry recovery. Other projects endeavor to improve or create a new ecosystem, such as erosion control, federal urban development recovery, and pollination. In either case, the human intervention in actual restoration planting will both accelerate the ecosystem recovery and assure its healthy balance.
Government agencies, companies and individual landowners, engaged in active restoration planting, re-establish the affected land by utilizing the ingenuity, diversity, and sustainability through the introduction of mitigation plants.
Mitigation Plants Defined
Mitigation plants are typically a native species of trees, saplings, seedlings, grasses, and ground cover suited to the local environment - this is especially true in wetland and woodland ecosystems. The implementation of mitigation plants is strategically planned to ensure genetic diversity and propagation. The principle here is that native plantings from a local region have the best chance of cohesive sustainability, thereby assuring a healthy balance to the recovering ecosystem.
How Mitigation Plants Are Used
The use of various trees, plants and varietal vegetation promotes a balance in the recovering ecosystem. For example, incorporating a variety of tree species meets the goal of creating a diverse habitat. Also, the more extensive, fibrous root systems, inherent with trees, provide a stabilizing effect for the soil. The tree further protects and encourages the propagation of more fragile vegetation, under its shade canopy and through its ability to function as a windbreak. Through another technique called “live stake” and “brush layer,” live branching is seeded for erosion control, ground roughing, and vegetation proliferation.
The Goal of Restoration Planting
Restoration planting plays a necessary and integral role in the assurance of environmental health during any land recovery project. The goal is to establish an ecosystem that is balanced through the integration of diverse native species of plant, thereby ensuring bio-recovery success. Whether in the recovery of wetlands, stream bank restoration, fields, or forest, restoration planting is the critical element of the assured proliferation, healing, and balance of the ecosystem. Diversity use of native plants lends proliferation to the recovery, symbiotic interest to the environment, stability to the surrounding ecosystem, and a visually appealing aspect to the land.