Skip to main content
Contact Us

Technical Development has been involved in land restoration operations since the 1990s, when complete cultivation techniques and use of sewage sludge were being developed by Forest Research.

In 2009 TD resumed work on land reclamation prompted by the interest of FC Scotland in regenerating brown-field land as a component of the Woodlands In and Around Towns initiative.

The work activity of TD in land reclamation is primarily concerned with near-operational research that complements FR’s science activity.   We focus on fundamental practical operations for establishing new woodland on derelict land and other brownfield, degraded former industrial sites. Includes ground preparation, organic soil amendments, drainage, forest design, planting and species choice in brownfield regeneration.


Our objectives for land reclamation are to help to develop and promote good operational practice by:

  • Determining outputs and costs of operations
  • Understanding machinery, work methods and materials (including amendments) in the context of forestry needs
  • Developing operational practice to achieve greater cost-effectiveness (both financial and environmental)
  • Collaborating with stakeholders (scientists, engineers, regulators, landowners, practitioners etc) to ensure that outcomes are correct, consistent, relevant, practical, safe, effective and efficient
  •  Generating, collating and promulgating information on good practice for implementation of land restoration to forestry
  • Providing advisory support to practitioners

Work methods

We use a range of techniques including:

  • Work Study (time and method study)
  • Equipment evaluation e.g. comparing machine specification and performance with stated requirements
  • Method development e.g. critically analyzing systems to identify improvements
  • Short term field trials < 1 year e.g. for Work Study and equipment evaluation
  • Longer term field trials c.1 – 5 years e.g. tree growth from method development
  • Definitive measurement e.g. tree volume & growth, soil characteristics & materials
  • Empirical assessment e.g. categorization of site types & vegetation
  • Statistical analysis of measurements where required to verify conclusions (but generally not for Work Study where actual results are presented)
  • Demonstrations e.g. real time operations or subsequent forest performance
  • Collaboration with other specialists (soil scientists, engineers, ecologists, social scientists) to deliver multi-disciplinary projects.

Site and operation type and locations

Technical Development is based at Ae in South Scotland and hence we focus on site types found in Central Scotland:

  • Opencast coal sites (generally cold and wet, with high clay content)
  • Deep mining coal spoil and oil shale spoil tips
  • Landfill and disturbed ground following removal of built development.The main operation types covered are:
  • We can potentially also work in other areas of GB.
  • Restoration process e.g. loose tipping
  • Ground cultivation, primarily complete cultivation
  • Organic amendments, primarily compost and anaerobic digestate but potentially also CLO, sewage sludge and others
  • Associated forestry operations including planting, maintenance and infrastructure


Some of our technical reports are available here:

FCJR59 West Lothian Council – Prospects for Land Restoration using anaerobic digestate for SRC-SRF Production, System Evaluation

TDJR104 Using Quality Compost to reclaim land for forestry and biomass

TDJR105 Soil status assessment of legacy forest reclamation sites: Case Studies

TDJR111 WRAP AD Cultivation Trials – Addiewell & Dalquhandy 2011

TDJR124 Greenoakhill landfill site, reclamation monitoring

TDJR130 Forestry Trials of AD and Compost in Central Scotland

A summary Presentation is here:

Reclaiming Soils for Trees and Biomass (2014)

Technical Development Services: Land reclamation
In this section
Technical Development Services: Land reclamation