Restoration of forests affected by SOD is largely experimental at this time. Through careful monitoring of your restoration projects, you can compile the data needed to determine the success of various techniques under the range of conditions that occur at your site. The locations of various treatments applied in each year (planting, weed control, etc.) can be documented using maps, GPS coordinates, and/or permanent field markers (e.g., metal tags or stakes). Photos taken from specific locations (photo points) are also useful for documenting locations and changes over time.
When taking monitoring data include information on factors that may be limiting growth or survival, such as, soil conditions, weather (precipitation, temperatures), shading, plant competition, browsing by livestock or wildlife, diseases, insect injury, and other damage agents (e.g., fire). Some of these constraints can be addressed by cultural inputs (e.g., fencing to exclude herbivores, thinning, weed control). If factors such as an extended drought or fire are limiting, it may be necessary to switch to species that will better tolerate these adverse conditions.
Initial seedling and sapling survival rates are commonly the focus of restoration project monitoring. However, high seedling survival in the first few years of a project does not guarantee long- term survival or recruitment of seedlings and saplings to larger size classes. Hence, continued monitoring is needed to ensure the restoration project is successful.