Reclamation and restoration are two words that sound the same and are spoken in the same circles, but their meaning is very different.
While both refer to land reclamation efforts designed to ensure a piece of land is brought to a natural or productive state, one focuses on what was while the other focuses on what may be.
Specifically, reclamation speaks to re-claiming a piece of damaged or unused land to serve a more productive purpose and refers to measures taken to alleviate problems, even if it creates an ecosystem different from the original.
Restoration deals with the need to bring land back to its original state and refers to situations where disturbed landscape and ecosystems are returned to their original shapes and composition.
EXAMPLES OF RECLAMATION
When it comes to the land reclamation efforts of North America’s energy companies, the choice between restoration and reclamation is one made at the very beginning of a project; long before any wells are drilled or other infrastructure constructed.
In fact, detailed land reclamation plans are required as a major part of any project approval application, and those that adhere to best practice include progressive or “interim” reclamation efforts as well. Progressive reclamation delivers in real-time as areas that are no longer needed for operations get a head-start on reclamation activities like seeding.
When operations are done, land reclamation follows these standard steps:
- Ground contouring and drainage systems
- Replacing subsoil, topsoil and organic materials
- Revegetation and seeding
- Monitoring soil, water and vegetation quality
Today’s energy company is keenly aware of the public and private scrutiny that surrounds their operational activities, and as such, are ensuring their reclamation and restoration goals are strategic and understood from the start and that they capitalize on new and innovative strategies for addressing disturbed land needs quicker and more effectively.
The process of land reclamation by the oil and natural gas industry ensures that the land used is returned to a productive state.
EXAMPLES OF RESTORATION
Forest restoration projects seek to replant the trees cut down by forestry in an attempt to get back to naturally absorbing carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, as well as drastically improving the drinking water, aesthetics and employment situation for communities.
Take Pakistan’s Billion Tree Tsunami launched in 2014. This project saw the government successfully plant a billion trees in just under three years in a project that was masterfully executed months in advance of its proposed deadline according to the World Economic Forum.
To say that the project was a massive success would be a major understatement, with more than 350,000 hectares of trees added via new planting and natural regeneration. In fact, it was so successful that the government recently launched a new plan to plant another 10 billion trees.
In a similar, albeit more publicly heralded restoration project, the Belize Barrier Reef System made famous by Charles Darwin and consisting of seven marine protected areas, was added to UNESCO’s list of World Heritage Sites in Danger in 2009 and was recently removed due to incredible recovery.
Recognized as unique in the world for its array of reef types contained in a relatively small area, the Barrier Reef’s recovery was due in large part to the recognized actions of the Belize government. Their moratorium on offshore oil drilling and exploration, ban of single-use plastic and styrofoam products, and establishment of “no-take” fishing zones has not only protected the reef from future damage, but has given it the room to restore itself naturally over just a few years time.
There is no excuse for anyone to destroy land in the pursuit of short-term opportunity without considering the long-term future of land, and how it coils and should contribute to a thriving ecosystem.
It is encouraging to see industry and government embrace the challenge of sustainability and Strongfield Environmental Solutions remains at the forefront of technological solutions designed to support such a daunting challenge.
If you are in need of reclamation or restoration services, please do not hesitate to reach out at your convenience.