Assessment of Forest Ecosystem Development in Coal Mine Degraded Land by Using Integrated Mine Soil Quality Index (IMSQI): The Evidence from India

Sneha Bandyopadhyay, Luís A. B. Novo, Marcin Pietrzykowski, Subodh Kumar Maiti*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

24 Citations (Scopus)
48 Downloads (Pure)


Research highlights: (1) Ecosystem development assessed in an afforested post-mining site. (2) Soil organic carbon (SOC) and total nitrogen (TN) stock reached close to the reference forest site after 25 years of afforestation. (3) Integrated mine soil quality index is developed to assess the reclamation success. Background and Objectives: Estimation of the mine soil quality is one of the most important criterions for evaluating the reclamation success and restoration of novel ecosystems of the post-industrial degraded lands. The aim of this long-term experiment was to investigate the influence of revegetation on Technosol (defined as anthropogenic soil resulted from reclamation of mine spoil materials) as the basic ecosystem development. Materials and Methods: A field study was
carried out in the chronosequence afforested post-mining sites (5, 10, 25 years) and compared with natural forest site. We assessed the physicochemical properties and nutrient stock of mine soil and estimated general mine soil quality by using an integrated mine soil quality index (IMSQI). The studies
were fully randomized in the chronosequence of afforested post-mining sites. Results: Nutrient dynamics and soil properties (physicochemical and biological) were recovered with the increase age of reclamation. Soil organic carbon (SOC) stock significantly increased from 9.11 Mg C ha−1 in 5 years to 41.37 Mg C ha−1 after 25 years of afforestation. Likewise, total nitrogen (TN) stock
significantly increased from 1.06 Mg N ha−1 in 5 years to 4.45 Mg N ha−1 after 25 years of revegetation. Ecosystem carbon pool enhanced at a rate of 6.2 Mg C ha−1 year−1 . A Principal Component Analysis (PCA)-based IMSQ index was employed to assess the reclamation success. The most influential properties controlling the health of reclaimed coal mine soil are fine earth fraction, moisture content, SOC and dehydrogenase activity. IMSQ index values are validated with vegetation characteristics. The estimated IMSQI ranged from 0.455 in 5-year-old (RMS5) to 0.746 in 25-year-old reclaimed dump (RMS25). Conclusions: A 25-year-old reclaimed dump having greater IMSQI (0.746) than reference forest soils (0.695) suggested the aptness of revegetation to retrieve soil quality and function in derelict mine land.
Original languageEnglish
Article number1310
Number of pages24
Issue number12
Early online date8 Dec 2020
Publication statusFirst published - 8 Dec 2020


  • coal mine degraded land
  • afforestation
  • soil function
  • carbon and nitrogen pool
  • carbon sequestration
  • soil enzyme


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