Learn to rehabilitate degraded land with appropriate tree planting. Understand the steps needed to create a new ecosystem.

Course Code: BHT205
Fee Code: S2
Duration (approx) Duration (approx) 100 hours
Qualification Statement of Attainment
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Learn how to rehabilitate degraded land; to prevent further damage by planting trees.

Whether you own property, are a farmer or need to learn many methods of land rehabilitation for another reason, this course is for you.

Written and delivered by our resident experts in this subject, it will teach you all planting trees to rehabilitate land.

As trees are an integral part of a healthy environment and it is for that reason that tree planting is essential in land rehabilitation.

Over clearing of trees can lead to salinity problems and numerous forms of erosion and land slips. As we have become more familiar with their vital role in ecological processes, retention and selective planting of trees has been widely acknowledged, in improving farm viability and ultimately production. 

The importance of trees to land management cannot be overstated. Often in the past they have been seen as competing for valuable land space and felled indiscriminately. Over clearing of trees can lead to salinity problems and numerous forms of erosion and land slips. As we have become more familiar with their vital role in ecological processes, retention and selective planting of trees has been widely acknowledged, in improving farm viability and ultimately production.

Lesson Structure

There are 10 lessons in this course:

  1. Approaches To Land Rehabilitation
    • The Importance of Trees,
    • Understanding plants,
    • Understanding Plant Identification,
    • Land Management Programs,
    • Biodiversity,
    • Soil Degradation,
    • Erosion,
    • Salinity,
    • Soil Acidification
    • Rehabilitation.
  2. Ecology Of Soils And Plant Health
    • Biomass
    • The Ecosystem
    • Indigenous Plants
    • Creating Habitat Corridors for Wildlife
    • Design Considerations
    • Edge Effects
    • Soils
    • Soil Physical Characteristics
    • Soil Chemical Characteristics
    • Improving Soils
    • Plant Nutrition
    • The Nutrient Elements
    • Fertilizers
    • Diagnosis of Nutritional Problems
    • Pests and Diseases.
  3. Introduction To Seed Propagation Techniques
    • Seed Propagation
    • Difficult Seeds
    • Sowing your Seeds
    • Containers for Propagation
    • The Bog Method
    • Quality Control
    • Propagation Systems
    • Sources of Seed and Information.
  4. Propagation And Nursery Stock
    • Asexual Propagation
    • Types of Cuttings
    • Stock Plants
    • Hormone Treatments
    • Nursery Hygiene
    • Propagating Mixes
    • Potting Media
    • Maintaining Plants in Pots
    • Information on Greenhouses.
  5. Dealing With Chemical Problems
    • Soil Contamination
    • Symptoms of Chemical Contamination
    • Rehabilitating Damaged Soils
    • Growing Plants on Contaminated Soils
    • Rehabilitating a Building Site
    • Soil Chemical Composition and Plant Growth.
  6. Physical Plant Effects On Degraded Sites
    • Pioneer Plants
    • Site Protection
    • Designing and Planting a Firebreak
    • Stormwater
    • Waterlogging and Drainage
    • Soil Compaction.
  7. Plant Establishment Programs
    • What to Plant Where
    • Climate
    • Plant Selection Criteria
    • Planting
    • Plant Protection Methods
  8. Hostile Environments
    • Planning Rehabilitation Projects
    • Coping with Dry Conditions
    • Mulch
    • Weed Management
    • Trees and Large Shrubs that Tolerate Salt
    • Salt Tolerant Plant Species.
  9. Plant Establishment Care
    • Planting Procedures
    • Water and Plant Growth
    • Inspecting Plant Health
    • Examining the Plant
    • Examining the Local Environment
    • Methods of Inspection Prioritising Problems
    • Research.
  10. Rehabilitating Degraded Sites
    • Environmental Assessment and Audits
    • Implementing a Land Rehabilitation Management Program
    • Determining a Program and Replanting


  • Compare different approaches to land rehabilitation, to determine strengths and weaknesses of alternative options on a site to be rehabilitated.
  • Determine techniques to maximise plant development in land rehabilitation situations.
  • Explain the different ways of producing seedling trees for land rehabilitation purposes.
  • Determine appropriate plant establishment programs.
  • Develop procedures to care for plants, during establishment in an hostile environment.
  • Manage the rehabilitation of degraded soil.
  • Explain the effect of plants on improving a degraded site, both physically and chemically.

What You Will Do

  • Determine different examples of land degradation on sites you visit.
  • Explain different reasons for land rehabilitation, including: Salination, Erosion, Mining, Grazing, Vegetation harvesting, Pests, Reduction of biodiversity, Soil contamination and Urbanisation.
  • Compare the effectiveness of different policy approaches to land rehabilitation by different agencies and organisation, including: Different levels of government, Mining companies, Developers and Conservation groups (i.e. tree planting bodies, landcare groups).
  • Develop a risk analysis for a specified site to be rehabilitated, by determining a variety of plant health problems which may impact on the success of plant establishment.
  • Analyse the failure of plants to grow successfully on a visited land rehabilitation site.
  • Develop a procedure to enhance the success rate of land rehabilitation plantings on a degraded site you visit.
  • Describe the use of mulches, to maximise plant condition in a specified land rehabilitation tree planting project.
  • Explain different processes of establishing seedlings on land rehabilitation sites, including: tubestock nursery production, direct seeding and pre-germinated bare rooted seedlings.
  • Determine factors which affect the viability of establishing different species of plant seedlings, from different plant families; on a specific degraded site.
  • Compare the benefits of buying plants with propagating and growing on plants for planting a site (with reference to: costs, plant quality, local suitability & management).
  • Prepare production schedules for a plant species, using different propagation techniques, summarising all important tasks from collection of seed to planting out of the tubestock.
  • Calculate the cost of production for a tubestock plant, according to the production schedule you develop.
  • Estimate the differences in per plant establishment costs, for small container grown plants, compared with direct seeding methods, for planting on a degraded site.
  • Describe different methods of planting trees for rehabilitation purposes.
  • Describe different plant establishment techniques, including: wind protection, frost protection, pest control, water management and weed management.
  • Describe an appropriate method for preparing soil for planting, at a proposed land rehabilitation site in your locality.
  • Evaluate plant establishment techniques used by different land rehabilitation programs inspected by you at least twelve months after planting was carried out.
  • Determine the needs of plants after planting, on two different proposed land rehabilitation sites.
  • Describe different, efficient ways, of catering to the needs of large numbers of plants after planting.
  • Collect pressed specimens or photographs of twenty trees for a herbarium of suitable trees for rehabilitation, and including information on the culture and care of each tree.
  • Describe different types of soil degradation in your locality.
  • Determine the risk factors involved in soil degradation, relevant to your locality.
  • Compare two different alternative methods of treating each of three different soil degradation problems identified which you inspect.
  • Develop an assessment form to use for evaluating the sensitivity of a site to land degradation.
  • Evaluate a site showing signs of degradation, selected by you, using the assessment form you develop.
  • Plan a rehabilitation program for the degraded site you evaluated, including
    • a two year schedule of work to be completed;
    • list of quantity and type of materials required;
    • approximate cost estimates.
  • Explain the effect different plant species may have resisting soil degradation.
  • Explain how different plants can have different impacts upon the chemistry of their environment, including both air and soil.
  • Evaluate the significance of a group of plants, to the nature of the microclimate in which you find them growing.
  • Compare the appropriateness of different plant species for different degraded sites.
  • Determine plant varieties, suited to different degradation situations.

What Trees to Use?
Successful land rehabilitation depends in a big way, on what trees you choose to use in a particular place.
There are often thousands of different trees you might choose from, and dozens of different ways you might go about planting and establishing them.
  • Learn to identify different tree species
  • Learn to differentiate between the characteristics and needs of each species
  • Learn to select a species that suits the situation at hand
  • Learn to plant and care for the tree in an appropriate way, to optimise it's establishment.
Eucalyptus are Popular for Rehabilitation
Eucalypts are one of many genera that are popular trees to use for land rehabilitation. This is because they include a wide range of hardy, fast growing species; that are adapted to a very wide range of climates.
Eucalypts can vary from low shrubby plants to huge trees, which are in fact the tallest flowering plants in the world. They can occur in all types of environments, from deserts to wet rainforests, from sea level to high altitudes, and from the tropics to cool temperate places that are blanketed by snow for many months of the year. 
Eucalypts also have some specialised adaptations that enable them to regenerate, even after serious damage (eg. lignotubers and epicormic buds).
Most, but not all eucalypts produce lignotubers. Tuberous swellings develop in the axils of the cotyledons and the first few leaves. These unite to form a tuberous mass which may continue to grow and become woody. It contains several dormant vegetative buds which develop upon death of the plant stem (brought about by fire, drought or physical action) and produce new stems.

Epicormic buds are dormant vegetative buds which lie beneath the bark. They allow the tree to regenerate following destruction of the crown, for example by fire.


Course Contributors

The following academics were involved in the development and/or updating of this course.

Maggi Brown

Maggi is the classic UK "plantswoman". She can identify thousands of plants, and maintains her own homes and gardens in the Cotswolds (England), and near Beziers (in Southern France). Maggi is regarded as a leading organics expert across the UK, having w

Bob James (Horticulturist)

Bob has over 50 years of experience in horticulture across both production sectors (Crops and nursery) and amenity sectors of the industry.
He holds a Diploma in Agriculture and Degree in Horticulture from the University of Queensland; as well as a Maste

Gavin Cole (Horticulturist)

Gavin started his career studying building and construction in the early 80's. Those experiences have provided a very solid foundation for his later work in landscaping. In 1988 he completed a B.Sc. and a few years later a Certificate in Garden Design. I

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