Challenges in determining the best rehabilitation parameters and criteria for arid areas with specific reference to the Southern Kalahari region of South Africa

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Chrizette Deona Neethling

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Transformation of arid areas is extensive due to inter-generational accumulation of mining impacts. Transformation is further escalated as water supply infrastructure allows for higher population development than naturally possible. Arid ecosystems offer limited land use opportunities and respond at a slower, non-successional rate than other ecosystems. The high cost of rehabilitating arid areas is difficult to justify, especially with success uncertain. This study investigates how to select the best parameters and criteria to determine rehabilitation success in arid areas. The changing, more demanding legislation and increasing rehabilitation costs to meet mine closure obligations requires a greater understanding of arid area rehabilitation. Rehabilitation aimed to restore mined areas to its “predetermined natural state” as legally required is a challenge. Normally, the original natural state has not been quantified.  Many times, a broad understanding of the natural state is used. In best practice, analogue benchmarks are validated chrono-sequentially. The specific issue we address is which parameters and criteria should be used to determine rehabilitation success. We systematically evaluate 40 records in the field of arid area rehabilitation in Australia, South Africa, and Namibia. Publications from 2005 to 2015 are compared and fifteen case studies are showcased. Over 114 parameters are used in arid areas. Through an analytical hierarchy process we determined the best parameter combination for mines in the Southern Kalahari region in South Africa. Forty-six percent of the cases use analogue models successfully.  A sample of parameters are generally used to derive limited conclusions.  Sometimes this can be defended as efficient.

Resource Type:
Audio/Video, Conference Presentation, SER2019

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Society for Ecological Restoration