Comparison of plant and bacterial communities between a subtropical landfill topsoil 15 years after restoration and a natural area

Xun Wen Chen, James Tsz Fung Wong, Anna Oi Wah LEUNG, Charles Wang Wai Ng*, Ming Hung WONG

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articlepeer-review

24 Citations (Scopus)


Engineered sanitary landfills are becoming more and more common worldwide. Ecosystem restoration of capped sanitary landfills is essential to restore the disturbed environment. Comparing plant communities, as well as bacterial communities, in landfills and natural areas, offers an efficient way to assess the restoration status. However, such studies on the restored engineered landfills are limited. Here we present an ecological restoration case in an engineered landfill in a subtropical region. Part of the South East New Territories (SENT) landfill in Hong Kong was capped and restored, by using 16 plant species growing on top of the final cover soil, during 1997–1999. In 2014, plant survey and soil properties analyses were conducted in a restored site (AT) and a natural site (CT, an undisturbed area, serving as a control). The similarity between the biota communities (i.e., plant and soil bacteria) of the two sites was assessed. Plant and soil bacterial communities at AT were significantly different (R = 1, P < 0.01, ANOSIM) from those at CT. A lower plant diversity but a higher soil bacterial diversity were observed at AT. The soil bacterial community structure was potentially driven by soil pH, moisture content, cation exchange capacity (CEC), N, and P. The engineered landfill had not been restored to an ecosystem similar to the natural environment 15 years after restoration. Establishing similar soil properties in the landfill topsoil would be important to achieve a bacterial community similar to the natural area. This study can also offer a quick and inexpensive method for landfill engineers to assess the bacterial restoration of man-made ecosystems using plant and soil properties rather than DNA analyzing techniques.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)49-57
Number of pages9
JournalWaste Management
Publication statusPublished - May 2017

Scopus Subject Areas

  • Waste Management and Disposal

User-Defined Keywords

  • Man-made ecosystem
  • Nutrients cycling
  • Plant
  • Restoration
  • Sanitary landfill
  • Soil bacterial community


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