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Journal of Arid Land  2023, Vol. 15 Issue (11): 1290-1314    DOI: 10.1007/s40333-023-0073-9
Research article     
Evaluation of restoration success in arid rangelands of Iran based on the variation of ecosystem services
Department of Ecological Engineering, Faculty of Natural Resources, University of Jiroft, Jiroft 7867161167, Iran
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The plantation of non-native species is one of the most expensive ecological restoration measures in arid and semi-arid areas, while its impacts on local communities are largely ignored. This study assessed the rate of change and the dynamic degree of the economic values of ecosystem services related to local conservation (water yield, stocking rate and aesthetic value) and preserving the future (carbon sequestration, soil protection, soil stability and habitat provision) to determine the restoration success of the plantation of non-native species Haloxylon ammodendron (C.A.Mey.) Bunge ex Fenzl (15- and 30-year-old) in parts of arid rangelands of Bardsir region, Kerman Province, Iran. We investigated the impacts of the two plantations on the seven ecosystem services and ecosystem structures (horizontal and vertical structures, vegetation composition and species diversity) based on field sampling and measurements at four sampling sites (i.e., control, degraded, and 15- and 30-year-old plantation sites) in spring and summer of 2022. The restoration success of the plantation of non-native species was then examined by assessing the rate of change and the dynamic degree of the total economic value of all ecosystem services as well as the rate of change and the dynamic degree of the economic values of ecosystem services for the two groups (local conservation and preserving the future). Although the plantation of non-native species H. ammodendron enormously improved the vertical and horizontal structures of ecosystems, it failed to increase species diversity and richness fully. Further, despite the plantation of non-native species H. ammodendron had significantly increased the economic values of all ecosystem services, it was only quite successful in restoring carbon sequestration. Path analysis showed that plantation age had a significant impact on restoration success directly and indirectly (through changing ecosystem structures and services). The dynamic degree of the economic values of ecosystem services related to local conservation and preserving the future at the 15- and 30-year-old plantation sites indicated that the two plantations successfully restored the ecosystem services related to preserving the future. The presented method can help managers select the best restoration practices and predict their ecological-social success, especially for the plantation of high-risk non-native species in arid and semi-arid areas.

Key wordsHaloxylon ammodendron      restoration success      ecosystem services      ecosystem structures      arid ecosystems      path analysis      Iran     
Received: 14 April 2023      Published: 30 November 2023
Corresponding Authors: * Mohsen SHARAFATMANDRAD (E-mail:
Cite this article:

Mohsen SHARAFATMANDRAD, Azam KHOSRAVI MASHIZI. Evaluation of restoration success in arid rangelands of Iran based on the variation of ecosystem services. Journal of Arid Land, 2023, 15(11): 1290-1314.

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Height (m) Height class Height (m) Height class
1.50-2.00 4 0.00-0.50 1
2.00-2.50 5 0.50-1.00 2
2.50-3.00 6 1.00-1.50 3
Table 1 Height classes of patches (perennials and litter) based on Landscape Function Analysis (LFA) method
Service category Service type Reference
Provisioning services Stocking rate Havstad et al. (2007)
Water yield
Regulating services Carbon sequestration Pan et al. (2013)
Soil protection
Cultural service Aesthetic value van Zanten et al. (2016)
Supporting services Habitat provision de Groot et al. (2002); Millennium Ecosystem Assessment (2005)
Soil stability
Table 2 Ecosystem services quantified in this study
Fig. 1 Distribution of canopy volume in different height classes at the control site (a), degraded site (b), 15-year-old plantation site (c), and 30-year-old plantation site (d)
30-year-old plantation site 15-year-old plantation site Degraded site Control site Horizontal structure
44.21±3.12b 31.20±1.32b 14.32±2.31a 41.21±1.23c Perennials Relative area of patches (%)
8.56±2.14b 6.23±1.34b 1.34±1.65a 8.32±3.45b Litter
47.23±3.12a 62.57±3.21b 84.34±3.12c 50.47±3.12a Bare open soil Relative area of inter-patches (%)
0.73 0.68 0.34 0.86 LOI
Table 3 Characteristics of horizontal structure at the control, degraded, and 15- and 30-year-old plantation sites
30-year-old plantation site 15-year-old plantation site Degraded site Control site Index
2.14±1.03a 1.12±0.56a 1.05±0.56a 3.56±2.40a Shrubs Vegetation cover (%)
3.13±1.02a 1.23±0.35a 10.25±1.32b 27.30±3.65b Subshrubs
3.24±1.32a 3.21±1.20a 3.23±0.35a 4.23±0.56a Herbs
37.23±5.37c 25.23±5.36b 0.00±0.00a 0.00±0.00a Small trees
0.58±0.14b 0.52±0.13b 0.21±0.06a 0.65±0.13c D Species diversity
13±5b 12±4b 8±5a 26±3c Richness
Table 4 Vegetation cover and species diversity at the control, degraded, and 15- and 30-year-old plantation sites
Fig. 2 Variations in ecosystem services of stocking rate (a), soil stability (b), soil protection (c), carbon sequestration (d), aesthetic value (e), water yield (f) and habitat provision (g) at the control, degraded, and 15- and 30-year-old plantation sites
Economic value (USD/hm2) Ecosystem service
30-year-old plantation site 15-year-old plantation site Degraded site Control site
128.40±18.95c 89.80±13.54b 18.40±2.32a 329.20±42.54d Stocking rate
103.38±9.16b 98.10±14.23b 49.38±8.23a 134.03±41.57c Water yield
827.80±98.20d 445.10±70.50b 228.30±71.70a 653.30±85.21c Carbon sequestration
11.67±1.06b 8.38±1.05a 6.74±0.75a 12.48±1.41b Soil protection
8.35±0.38b 5.35±0.34b 3.21±0.23a 10.21±1.35c Habitat provision
13.25±1.54c 9.38±1.23b 5.68±0.35a 14.23±0.35c Soil stability
12.32±4.39b 10.25±3.25b 4.21±1.23a 18.35±2.68c Aesthetic value
Table 5 Economic values of ecosystem services at the control, degraded, and 15- and 30-year-old plantation sites
Fig. 3 Rates of change in horizontal and vertical structures and species diversity at the degraded, and 15- and 30-year-old plantation sites compared to the control site. Error bars represent standard deviations.
Rate of change (%) Ecosystem service
30-year-old plantation site 15-year-old plantation site Degraded site
-61.00±8.65 -73.00±12.32 -94.00±2.32 Livestock rate
-23.00±5.68 -27.00±8.23 -63.17±8.21 Water yield
26.00±4.35 -31.00±5.32 -65.78±4.23 Carbon sequestration
-06.00±3.20 -32.00±7.65 -46.00±5.65 Soil protection
-18.00±2.35 -47.00±2.35 -68.00±4.35 Habitat provision
-7.00±1.32 -34.00±3.68 -60.00±2.31 Soil stability
-32.00±03.68 -44.00±6.98 -77.00±6.23 Aesthetic value
Table 6 Rates of change in the economic values of the seven ecosystem services at the degraded, and 15- and 30-year-old plantation sites compared to the control site
Fig. 4 Rates of change in the economic values of ecosystem services related to the two groups (local conservation and preserving the future) and in the total economic value of all ecosystem services at the degraded, and 15- and 30-year-old plantation sites compared to the control site. Error bars represent standard deviations.
Fig. 5 Dynamic degrees of the economic values of ecosystem services related to the two groups (local conservation and preserving the future) and of the total economic value of all ecosystem services at the 15- and 30-year-old plantation sites compared to the degraded site. Error bars represent standard deviations.
Fig. 6 Correlations between ecosystem structures and ecosystem services
F Adjusted R2 t Standardized beta Dependent variable Independent variable
12.35** 0.85 Model 1
13.24** 0.46 Restoration success Plantation age
8.35** 0.34 Vertical structure
3.21* 0.25 Horizontal structure
-9.31** -0.37 Vegetation composition
7.21** 0.33 Species diversity
3.20* 0.23 Provisioning services
10.23** 0.39 Regulating services
8.35** 0.34 Supporting services
4.32** 0.27 Cultural services
10.09** 0.83 Model 2
9.35** 0.43 Plantation age Vertical structure
5.28** 0.30 Horizontal structure
-7.23** -0.39 Vegetation composition
6.08** 0.32 Species diversity
7.13** 0.79 Model 3
4.85** 0.37 Plantation age Provisioning services
7.28** 0.47 Regulating services
5.32** 0.40 Supporting services
3.68* 0.30 Cultural service
Table 7 Direct and indirect impacts of restoration success drivers based on path analysis
t Standardized beta Impact Restoration success driver
13.24** 0.46 Direct impact Plantation age
7.67** 0.27 Indirect impact through ecosystem structures
6.34** 0.21 Indirect impact through ecosystem services
18.34** 0.90 Total impact
Table 8 Standardized impacts of plantation age on restoration success
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