In this study, the effect of coal mining activities on lead and cadmium concentrations and distribution in soil was investigated in Hyrcanian forest, North Iran. 16 plots (20×20 m2) were established by systematic-randomly (60×60 m2) in an area of 4 ha (200×200 m2-mine entrance placed at center). An area adjacent to the mine was not affected by the mining activity; considered as the controlled area. In order to investigate soil lead and cadmium concentration, one sample was taken from the 0-10 cm in each plot. To study the spatial pattern of soil properties and lead and cadmium concentrations in the mining area, an area of 80×80m2 (the mine as the center) was considered and 80 soil samples were systematic-randomly taken (10 m intervals). Geostatistical analysis was performed via Kriging method and GS+ software (version 5.1). In order to estimate the impact of coal mining activities on soil quality, pollution index was measured. Lead and cadmium concentrations were significantly higher in mine area (Pb: 10.97±0.30, Cd: 184.47±6.26 mg.kg-1) in comparison to control area (Pb: 9.42±0.17, Cd: 131.71±15.77 mg.kg-1). The mean values of the PI index indicate that Pb (1.16) and Cd (1.77) presented slightly polluted. Results of the NIPI index showed that Pb (1.44) and Cd (2.52) presented slight pollution and moderate pollution respectively. Results of variography and kriging method showed that it is possible to prepare interpolation maps of lead and cadmium around the mining areas in Hyrcanian forest. According to results of pollution and risk assessments, forest soil was contaminated by heavy metals (lead and cadmium); therefore, using reclamation and remediation techniques in these areas is necessary.
Considering that coal mining is one of the important industrial activities, it may cause damages to environment. According to the author’s best knowledge, the effect of traditional coal mining activities on plant biodiversity has not been investigated in the Hyrcanian forests. Therefore, in this study, the effect of coal mining activities on vegetation and tree diversity was investigated in Hyrcanian forest, North Iran. After filed visiting and determining the mine, 16 plots (20×20 m2) were established by systematic-randomly (60×60 m2) in an area of 4 ha (200×200 m2-mine entrance placed at center). An area adjacent to the mine was not affected by the mining activity, and it is considered as the control area. In each plot, the data about trees such as number and type of species were recorded. The biodiversity of vegetation cover was considered 5 square sub-plots (1 m2) in each plot. PAST software and Ecological Methodology were used to calculate Biodiversity indices. The value of Shannon Wiener and Simpson diversity indices for tree cover in control area (1.04±0.34 and 0.62±0.20) was significantly higher than mining area (0.78±0.27 and 0.45±0.14). The value of evenness indices for tree cover in the mining area was significantly lower than that of the control area. The value of Shannon Wiener and Simpson diversity indices for vegetation cover in the control area (1.37±0.06 and 0.69±0.02) was significantly higher than the mining area (1.02±0.13 and 0.50±0.07). The value of evenness index in the control area was significantly higher than the mining area. Plant communities are a good indicator of the changes in the site. Study about changes in vegetation biodiversity and plant dynamics in the degraded land can provide necessary information for forest management and reforestation of these areas.