For wireless sensor networks (WSNs), uneven energy consumption is a major problem. A direct consequence of this is the energy hole problem, formation of sensing voids within the network field due to battery depleted sensors in the corresponding region. Hole formations are inherent in the network topology, yet it is possible to develop strategies to delay the hole formations to later stages of the network operation and essentially extend the network lifetime without sensing quality loss. In this work, we initially propose and analyze an approach that can be used to mitigate the hole problem. The approach is presented in detail and the effects on the sustained surveillance quality are presented. The results are based on simulations with different network configurations with realistic sensor models, MAC and routing protocols. By using the proposed approach, sustaining a sensing quality above a given threshold and more than doubling the network lifetime are possible. The results clearly indicate the suitability of the approach for especially demanding WSNs such as the ones used for border surveillance tasks. (C) 2010 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.