1. Excessive open-cast mining of lignite in the Lower Lausitia, eastern Germany, resulted in a new dimension in the field of stream system restoration. Up to 1990, 740 km2 of landscape had been destroyed, including topography and stream systems. Loss of streams is also reaching far beyond the actual open-pit boundaries due to the coherent groundwater depression covering 2100 km2.
2. Stream system restoration takes place in a man-made landscape of which the least part comprises unnatural conditions. A conceptual framework for specifying long-term restoration goals in the man-made environment is established, adapted to the complexity of comprehensive landscape restoration. This includes extensive surveys of stream structures and assessment of ecological functions in the post-mining areas.
3. Standards to evaluate possible scenarios of development must be explicit. Adapted to the specific constraints and the potential of the post-mining landscape, undirected abiotic processes should be the primary standard in the so-called natural recovery areas of the post-mining landscape. © 1998 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.