As part of the surface coal mining reclamation process, the operator is required to establish vegetative cover on all disturbed areas. Vegetation cover is required to be equal in extent and amount of cover to the pre-mining natural vegetation of the area, and be capable of stabilizing the soil surface from erosion. (VIP 14) The reestablished plant species shall be compatible with the approved post-mining land use and have the same seasonal characteristics of growth as the original vegetation; it must be capable of self-regeneration and plant succession; it must be compatible with the plant and animal species of the area. It must be comprised of species native to the area, or an approved introduced species, with desirable attributes necessary to achieve the approved post mining land use.
Six elements were investigated for revegetation including vegetation establishment, cover, community type, production (biomass), density (stems/acre), and change over time. Of these six, the density element expressed in stems/acre cannot be accomplished with the resolution of commercially available satellite imagery. Community type mapping can be accomplished, but additional field sampling is required. Vegetation production, or biomass can be accomplished with satellite imagery, but could not be completed for this project due to the time needed to complete the required supporting field sampling. The examples discussed in detail below propose virtual inspection methods to determine if revegetation of mining related disturbance during the process of reclamation is satisfactory, or to determine where further field sampling of vegetation data is required.