Frugal Rehabilitation Demonstration (FRD): developing and adapting the methodology (FRM) through action-research

Published: 28 March 2019
Last edited: 12 November 2020

Once demonstration sites are selected, local ASM groups receive training and are contracted to implement FRM through six steps:

  1. Preparation & Planning: degradation, boundary, hydrological & equipment assessments; labor, volume estimates; waste management; OHS standards
  2. Technical Rehabilitation: infill, regrading and reprofiling; use of limited mechanisation
  3. Topsoils: identification, conservation and re-distribution across sites
  4. Biological Rehabilitation: topsoil enrichment ; natural regeneration assessments; identification of native and key vegetation communities; seed collection; seeds and natural fertilizers distribution into topsoils; tree, shrub and grass plantings
  5. Mitigation Hierarchy: integrating rehabilitation planning into active ASM design and operations so as to reduce primary environmental impacts and unnecessary rehabilitation efforts
  6. Handover of completed rehabilitation site to relevant government administrations for approval/sign-off


Communication, outreach and awareness building
Education, training and other capacity development activities
Enforcement and prosecution
Evaluation, effectiveness measures and learning
Legal and policy frameworks, policy advocacy
Management planning
Sustainable livelihoods
Technical interventions and infrastructure
Scale of implementation
Phase of solution
Planning phase
Inception phase
Documentation and dissemination of results
Review phase

Enabling factors

  • National and local government permission to implement Frugal Rehabilitation Demonstration projects.
  • Resources to fund demonstration labour effort and technical application of methodology at site.
  • ASM capacity and willingness to receive training and implement the methodology on site.

Lessons learned

  • Successful application of the FRM: all the key physical and ecological requirements for successful rehabilitation are (with few exceptions) available within reasonable proximity of the site. They just need to be identified and adapted to context.
  • Habitat rehabilitation targeted to native vegetation communities can be successful without the use of non-native species.
  • Identification and recovery of topsoils are critical to success.
  • Biological rehabilitation works well together with topsoil seedbank  to establish a path to ecological recovery.
  • Low level mechanised approaches to heavy-lifting of material in topographic filling  can be effective but a dependence on mechanisation in the later stages of rehabilitation is not recommended. Overuse of machinery in these latter phases can result in reduced capacity for biological recovery.
  • FRM can be applied in abandoned areas, where mineral reserves are exhausted, and it can also be integrated into current ASM operations to reduce rehabilitation efforts.
  • Handover and sign-off from local authorities is key to ensure ongoing commitment.