Ecological restoration of land with particular reference to the mining of metals and industrial minerals: A review of theory and practice

J. A. Cooke, M. S. Johnson

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

196 Citations (Scopus)


Mining causes the destruction of natural ecosystems through removal of soil and vegetation and burial beneath waste disposal sites. The restoration of mined land in practice can largely be considered as ecosystem reconstruction - the reestablishment of the capability of the land to capture and retain fundamental resources. In restoration planning, it is imperative that goals, objectives, and success criteria are clearly established to allow the restoration to be undertaken in a systematic way, while realizing that these may require some modification later in light of the direction of the restoration succession. A restoration planning model is presented where the presence or absence of topsoil conserved on the site has been given the status of the primary practical issue for consideration in ecological restoration in mining. Examples and case studies are used to explore the important problems and solutions in the practice of restoration in the mining of metals and minerals. Even though ecological theory lacks general laws with universal applicability at the ecosystem level of organization, ecological knowledge does have high heuristic power and applicability to site-specific ecological restoration goals. However, monitoring and management are essential, as the uncertainties in restoration planning can never be overcome. The concept of adaptive management and the notion that a restored site be regarded as a long-term experiment is a sensible perspective. Unfortunately, in practice, the lack of post-restoration monitoring and research has meant few opportunities to improve the theory and practice of ecological restoration in mining.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)41-71
Number of pages31
JournalEnvironmental Reviews
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2002

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General Environmental Science


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