Difference Between Rehabilitation and Restoration

Edited by Diffzy | Updated on: April 30, 2023


Difference Between Rehabilitation and Restoration

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Rehabilitation and restoration are methods to restore previous data. For example, if a forest is deforested, then it can be restored by planting trees. This process of restoring the forest is the method of work of rehabilitation and restoration. The repairing can be done on anything like an old building, a wounded person, a deforested forest, or an abandoned place.

Restoration and rehabilitation help to maintain the original structure of something. Whether it is nature or an old, trodden building, they apply to all of them. Mostly, they heal the damages caused by human beings in the name of development. Rehabilitation and restoration of the ecosystem mean gaining the original structure and function of the ecosystem. However, the methods of working restoration and rehabilitation are different from each other.

Rehabilitation vs. Restoration

Rehabilitation is the process of bringing any artificial or natural into its original position but not to its exact form. In simple terms, rehabilitation means repairing the damages caused by human beings, and resources that human beings use. However, rehabilitation is not the complete repairing. The object will be repaired as much as possible but not completely. New features may also be introduced in it to reduce the risk of further damage.

For example, while repairing an old building damaged by an earthquake, certainly, the building cannot be repaired completely. However, further, improvements can be made to make the building safer and more secure.

Multiple aspects work behind deciding how rehabilitation should be carried out. Being divided into several categories, division and repairing can easily be done.

Restoration means repairing the damages caused by humans and the ecosystem to their full extent. It means restoration can get the object back into its original position. This is only possible when the object is not damaged enough. Restoration can be done to various objects like an ecosystem, forests, etc.

Restoration is most famous for restoring biodiversity. For example, deforestation has caused a lot of damage to the environment. Climate change, ozone layer depletion, drought, flood, etc are a few examples. To reduce the impact of deforestation, the forests need to be replanted again. This task is done by restoration. A group of people plants a tree in a deforested area. Though it takes a long time to restore, the effort of restoring the environment is worth it.

Difference Between Restoration and Rehabilitation in Tabular Form

Parameter of comparison Rehabilitation Restoration
Definition It is the process to attempt the exact repair It is the process that gives the exact repairs
Key feature Gives better results than the original material Gives exact results as the original material
Purpose of changes Changes are done to make the object better Changes are done to get the exact results as before
Ecosystem To make use of arid land for better use To restore the ecosystem to the same position
Practical aspect It seems practically possible Getting the exact copy is comparatively a tough task
Used in Building, forest, arid lands, grasslands, etc Ecosystem, marine life, etc

What is rehabilitation?

Rehabilitation means restoring the damages caused by human beings, technology, exploitation, depletion, over-utilization, etc. The main attempt is to restore the original position of the damages. But rehabilitation goes a step ahead. It focuses on advancement as well.

Rehabilitation reaches the cause of the damage. When it comes to repairing something, the first attempt is to repair it through restoration. But restoration has certain limitations. And, it cannot repair after a certain limit. In this case, rehabilitation is taken as a remedy. Rehabilitation attempts to reach the original state of the damage. However, in most cases, it is unachievable. Thus, rehabilitation goes for a middle path. It checks out the damaged material and do some changes so that the risk of further damage decreases.

It works for several objects. For example, rehabilitation of an old building. Suppose the building is too damaged to get repaired again. In this case, the building is rehabilitated as much as possible. And, then new changes are introduced to reduce further degradation of the building.

Rehabilitation plays an important role in the ecosystem as well. Some lands get trodden after some period due to a lack of nutrients and water. It turns out into a place of grazing. When the land is left as it is for more time. It converts from grazing land to arid land which is of no use. This land is beyond repair because it is highly deficient in nutrients and crops cannot grow on it.

When this land is rehabilitated, proper nutrients are added to the ground with the supply of water. Then, the pH balance is checked. Rehabilitation makes them again for use not at most for cropping but at least for seasonal grazing. And, the nutrients put in the soil make the soil eligible to grow different types of crops.

The work of rehabilitation is not limited only to agriculture and building. Instead, it covers up a wide area like flora and fauna. Flora and fauna are the most vulnerable to the development work of human beings. Various species of flora and fauna are extinct due to excessive cutting of forests and natural habitats of fauna. Various fauna today is endangered. The government had launched various schemes to protect and rehabilitate these faunae. However, some damages are beyond repair. The soil type, climatic condition, and topography get change with time making it impossible to restore lost flora and fauna.

Some damages are done by human beings to natural resources like water, soil, coal, petroleum, etc. Though these resources are abundant on earth, recent reports have shown that the earth is running out of these natural resources. And, these resources take a generous amount of time to get produced again. Rehabilitation cannot produce these resources but only to some extent. These resources can be saved for future use by sustainable development. Rehabilitation helps hereby reduce consumption through sustainable and optimum utilization. Mining and resources are saved. And, methods are built to enrich these mines.

For example, water is an exhaustible natural resource. Nearly 70 percent of the earth is full of water. Still, only 0.1 percent of the water on earth is drinkable. And, groundwater is the most important source of freshwater. But in recent years, groundwater had been exploited in such a way that had started to deplete. Though this resource cannot be restored completely. But attempts have been made to rehabilitate the groundwater. Rainwater harvesting is one of those ways.

What is restoration?

Restoration means bringing back the damaged state to its original state. It promises to bring the damages caused by the environment, human behavior, exploitation, over-utilization, lack of sustainable and optimum utilization, etc. However, some damages are permanent and cannot be restored by any restoration.

Restoration can be divided into different categories depending on the type of restoration. For example, restoration is done of buildings as well as of nature. The nature of restoration also changes with change in category.

Building restoration is one of the most ancient forms of restoration where buildings are repaired to get back their original shine of the building. Sometimes, the superficial structure of the buildings is changed keeping the basic structure of the building the same.

The most common form of restoration is ecosystem restoration. Human development and technology have caused widespread damage to the ecosystem. Now, attempts are made to restore the natural beauty of the ecosystem. The first attempt to restore were forests.

Forests are the only source of oxygen on the earth. Thus, for the survival of human beings, the survival of forests is also important. Deforestation has vastly reduced the area of restoration. Thus, attempts are made to restore forests. Various programs were launched by the government. Plantation of trees was promoted widely among people. It has given significant results. The area under the forests has significantly increased.

The second was to restore the groundwater level. Groundwater is the biggest source of freshwater drinkable by human beings. Due to over-exploitation, the level of water decreased significantly. Thus, the government took steps to restore groundwater. Rainwater harvesting systems, rooftop water storage, etc were built. Though the desired level of groundwater level has not been achieved because of higher demand than supply. Various steps are still in progress to achieve the goal.

The next restoration was of marine life. This was a successful restoration because it not only saved the life of marine life but also increased their number. The first step in this field was to aware people of the dangers to marine life. Then, they were appealed to contribute to making the life of marine animals easier. With the joint contribution of people and the government, the sea was cleaned and the number of marine animals increased.

The next restoration was not of a natural resource. Instead, it is an animal, a fauna, the white tiger of west Bengal. A few years earlier, it was an endangered animal. Only a few populations were left on the earth of this species. The government considered this matter. It launched a series of welfare programs to save the tiger. A specific area was declared reserved for the tigers. Hunting was banned. They were provided a comfortable area for their breeding. This continuous effort made a visible change. The number of tigers started to increase. Though they are still a few, they are above the endangered line.

These were the story of the success of the restoration. There are several cases where restoration failed and the place was given to rehabilitation. Medical science has its frequent examples. Where restoration failed to work, the method of rehabilitation was adopted and the maximum possible repairing was done. However, the concept of the exact repairing was no longer entertained.

Difference Between Rehabilitation and Restoration in Points

  • Rehabilitation means restoring the original form of the object. but not the same as earlier. A few differences are made to increase the usability of the object. however, restoration is the repairing of the object to get the original material. The main focus of restoration is to get the same product.
  • The final product of the rehabilitation is more advanced than the original form because new features add up during the process of restoring the material. However, the final product of restoration is the same as the original form. Thus, there is no scope for improvements in restoration.
  • The key objective of rehabilitation is to bring back the original material as much as possible. Some features are also added to it to restrain further damage. However, the key objective of restoration is to get the original object back. Any changes made in it ultimately led to the original object.
  • Rehabilitation has an important role in the ecosystem. For example, if the land is abandoned due to a lack of nutrition and moisture content. Rehabilitation can add a new life to the land. It can restore it to its original use. On the other hand, considering the use of restoration in the ecosystem, the perfect example is the restoration of forests.
  • If the possibility of success is measured practically in both cases, rehabilitation looks more achievable as compared to restoration. Restoration is difficult to achieve because it promises to give back the original object.
  • The main use of rehabilitation is in buildings, forests, arid lands, grasslands, etc. However, the main use of restoration is in deforested land, for medical purposes, marine life, ecosystem, etc.


Rehabilitation and restoration are two methods of repairing an object. Though the process is the same to some extent, their motives are different.

Rehabilitation means to attempt to get the original object back. However, the final product is quite different from the original product. It repairs the damages caused by humans, nature, science, technology, etc.

Restoration means restoring an object the same as the original object. The final product will look alike the original product.

The main objective of the processes is different in these cases. One works to make the better product but one works to make the exact product.


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"Difference Between Rehabilitation and Restoration." Diffzy.com, 2023. Tue. 26 Sep. 2023. <https://www.diffzy.com/article/difference-between-rehabilitation-and-restoration-111>.

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