Recultivation process in the Rhenish lignite mining area.

Recultivation process

The open areas of the opencast mines from which lignite was mined at depths up to 450m form the starting point for recultivation. Designing the new landscape begins with dumping planning in the opencast mine. This establishes the foundation for good and diverse recultivation. First the loose sediments (loess, sand, clay and so on) overlying the coal are neatly separated during mining as they are picked up and removed from the strata using bucket-wheel excavators. The substrates are then transported to the recultivation side on belt conveyors and immediately put into place, generally within an hour. Here, spreaders initially dump clay, sand and gravel into the depleted mining areas to backfill the opencast mine. A drainage layer of material permeable to water is then placed on top and the upper soil substrate is dumped. Embankments and depressions are shaped as naturally as possible today, meaning they are as irregular as nature itself. The opencast mine moves through the landscape with this opencast mining technique. New recultivated landscapes are constantly created in parallel with coal mining.

The initial substrates from the opencast mine form the new soils for the different recultivation types.

Varied sites support a diversity of species!

A varied landscape can be created by systematically placing the various sediments as the uppermost soil substrate. Various materials in opencast mining can form the basis for site diversity and therefore be the key to the diversity of species.

Agricultural recultivation

Restoring highly productive soils is one of the leading objectives in agricultural recultivation. The spreaders apply pure loess or loess loam where farmland is planned. Ecological priority areas such as temporary flower strips or permanent green spaces are created in addition to restoring arable land for agricultural use. are created in agricultural recultivation areas as well.

Forestry recultivation

Where forestry recultivation is planned, a mixture of around 25% loess or loess loam and 75% gravel/sand, called forestry gravel, is deposited as the uppermost soil layer. Every year, several hundred thousand trees are planted on the newly created areas: predominantly tree species that correspond to the native flora.

Special sites

Aside from agricultural and forestry recultivation, small special sites are selectively created in recultivation as well. Special sites are habitats with extreme site characteristics because they are created using special substrates. Such habitats only occur rarely in our cultivated landscape. They set themselves apart as hotspots of biodiversity, providing a refuge for many rare animal and plant species.

Further optimisation measures

New habitats are created by dumping the various initial substrates. We systematically implement measures that promote biodiversity in order to help the habitats mature and make them attractive for numerous animal and plant species. This gives the new landscape the best possible start for further development.

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Biodiversity strategy

Various sites create high biodiversity! We seize opportunities to voluntarily promote biodiversity in the recultivation.

Recultivation planning

Recultivation starts before mining! Before the first excavators move in, the planning of the subsequent landscape is fixed.


Recultivation is what persists! High-quality landscapes for people and nature are being created again in the Rhenish mining area.