Working Group 3

WG3 – Traditional and Innovative Systems: Focus on plants, ecology, plant physiology, mycorrhizzal fungi etc. – A Creating and Designing Think-Tank:

Understanding the issues and problems through European, international and interdisciplinary exchange and technical knowhow particularly on vegetation establishment relating to the plants themselves, native plants, agronomic and allied issues.

Working Group 3’s main focus is on ecosystems, habitat, autochthonous and other vegetation, plant species, plant survival adaptations, planting and seeding methods, plant selection, nursery growing, methods to facilitate plant establishing and growth as factors affecting restoration success as well as plant establishment methods and the complex interaction between these issues. Work will include the identification of functional groups of species and the functional traits within different genotypes within key species based on their plasticity in response to the environment and assessment of the interrelations between biodiversity, responsiveness and the heterogeneity relative to site. This WG will also take on board the synergies of invertebrates and other organisms that improve environmental growing conditions of plants as well as those organisms including mycorrhizzal fungi, which help to deliver water and nutrients to plant roots.

The WG will also look at the issues relating to seed gathering, production, storage and handling in the Mediterranean and other areas as most of this knowledge relates to climates. The WG will look at the causality of vegetation loss and measures to facilitate vegetation recovery in Europe and the rest of the world in arid land areas. The group will identify common themes and analyse the various threats for plant diversity and plant cover for all the countries included in the COST Action. These threats will be identified, analysed and where possible quantified. Core and subsidiary indicators will be identified as part of a toolkit for categorisation, understanding the layers of causality and identifying European and world-wide situations. The group will push forward ideas and proposals for passive as well as active restoration scenarios, evaluate the benefits and challenges of native versus the potential need for the use of hardier exotic species including halophytic species which are saline tolerant. Apart from establishing current knowledge, practice and methods regarding the above and pushing forward the range of possible interventions regarding enhanced vegetation establishment and microclimate, WG3 will link together with the other WGs with a continuous and specific flow of information. The greatest need for exchange is between WG2 and WG3 as they are dealing with the fundamentals of restoration using plants.