Environmental rehabilitation is a mandatory exercise to be undertaken when land is subjected to degradation or exploitation. While environmental rehabilitation has a larger meaning and broader significance, it predominantly deals with land rehabilitation. When land is subjected to degradation, owing to natural or manmade factors, it must be restored to its original state in terms of structure, topography, texture and properties. Without such an exercise, the environment can be severely impacted. While environmental rehabilitation is often common in areas where agriculture or any type of cultivation is to be engaged but it is a norm to conduct it anywhere needed, irrespective of the future purpose.
The major factors that demand environmental rehabilitation are mining, industrial development, forestry, natural disasters and also agriculture itself. All these human and natural activities lead to the degradation of the soil and one has to retain the land to its original state or as close to its pre-explored state as possible. Minesite rehabilitation is the most common and also the largest environmental rehabilitation exercises in the world. After a mine has been explored and all the anticipated amount of ore, metals or precious metals have been extracted, minesite rehabilitation is undertaken to render fertility to the land on the mine and in the surrounding areas and also to ensure that the mines do not remain open and exposed.
Minesite rehabilitation or environmental rehabilitation requires extensive effort and also sufficient knowledge. It cannot be undertaken by just about anyone and everyone. Had it been an attempt as simple as trying to restore the fertility of the land or the top soil, it might have been possible for anyone to use natural fertilisers or chemicals (if so warranted) and get started with land rehabilitation and later farming. But there are more factors to be considered in minesite rehabilitation, in most cases of which the top soil hardly exists after exploration.
There are several aspects of significance in minesite rehabilitation. First of which is to lock out the mine or block it with landfills. Underground mines are easy to block off but open mines can be tricky. The second aspect to deal with very meticulously is the segregation of the ores or any waste metals, rocks from the mines or burying them deep beneath the landfills. Without this environmental rehabilitation would be futile and the ores, metals or rocks would lead to severe problems. Third, after landfills are firmly in place top soil should be spread over to try and restore the topography as it was prior to industrialisation.
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