Tree planting and natural regeneration are the main approaches to achieve global forest restoration targets, affecting multiple hydrological processes, such as infiltration of rainfall. Our understanding of the effect of land use history and vegetation on the recovery of water infiltration and soil attributes in both restoration strategies is limited. Therefore, we investigated the recovery of top-soil saturated soil hydraulic conductivity (Ks), soil physical and hydraulic properties in five land use types: (i) a secondary old-growth forest; (ii) a forest established through assisted passive restoration 11 years ago; (iii) an actively restored forest, with a more intensive land use history and 11 years of age; (iv) a pasture with low-intensity use; and (v) a pasture with high-intensity use, in the Brazilian Atlantic Forest. For these land use types, we determined the historical land use patterns and conducted soil sampling, using the Beerkan method to determine Ks values in the field. We also measured tree basal area, canopy cover, vegetation height, tree density and species richness in forest covers. The Ks decreased when land use was more intense prior to forest restoration actions. Our results indicate that land use legacy is a crucial factor to explain the current difference in soil and vegetation attributes among study sites.
Read the article in Water.