Great Basin Naturalist Memoirs


The revegetation of disturbed, arid lands is one of the great challenges of a desert. An attempt to encourage it is not an impossible task, however, if the natural and the man-made resources available are utilized and managed. Where rainfall and temperature conditions approach or exceed those of the Great Basin desert, restoration of disturbed land will occur through natural revegetation processes within a reasonable period of time. This is not generally the case in the more arid Mojave Desert areas where the moisture and temperature conditions are less favorable for germination and seedling survival. Restoration of vegetation by natural reseeding can, however, occur within local sites where moisture has concentrated as the result of terrain features forming catchment basins. Otherwise, the natural revegetation processes in the Mojave Desert areas require much longer periods of time (possibly decades or centuries) than are practical for meeting environmental protection standards imposed by current legislation.
Through better understanding of the processes governing revegetation and the ability to control them, it is possible for man to more rapidly restore disturbed desert lands. Terrain manipulation to form moisture catchment basins, selection of seed from pioneering shrub species, preservation of existing shrub clump "fertile islands'" in the soil, supplemental fertilization, irrigation, organic amendments, and transplanting vigorous shrub species are some of the important things that can be done to help restore disturbed desert land.