Identification of restoration species for early roadcut slope regeneration using functional group approach.
Current restoration protocols for roadside cut slopes in South Korea involve hydroseeding with exotic species to achieve early greening and soil stabilization. However, exotic species can negatively affect adjacent native ecosystems. This study investigated the functional traits of early colonizers in slope restoration and surrounding environments to inform restoration methods that generate similar communities as those of native ecosystems. Slope vegetation (species density, species cover, upperstory species, canopy cover) and environment (aspect, angle, soil properties) were surveyed from the road edge to the forest boundary, and were classified as three distinct zones: a hydroseeded slope, a transition zone, and the forest edge. Naturally occurring species were classified into functional groups to examine dominant traits during early colonization. Hemicryptophyte or geophyte forest species and forest interior woody species were well established and dominant in transition zones and cut slopes. Potential native species for slope restoration can be identified by examining functional group species in the adjacent forest. These native species can achieve restoration goals and block invasive species in the same functional group. Festuca arundinacea (tall fescue), which is reported as an invasive alien species, rapidly spread after introduction for restoration. Thus, continuous monitoring for impact on native communities is required after sowing invasive alien species. Future slope restoration should consider native woody species and perennial forest sedge species that develop rhizomes, and reconsider the use of tall fescue. This study indicates that cut slopes can be appropriately managed to enhance the quality of habitats for native species.