Lateral epitaxial overgrowth (LEO), pendeo-epitaxy (PE), and solid-phase epitaxial recrystallization (SPER) are discussed as three approaches for reducing the defect density in group III nitride based heterostructures. Studies of the LEO GaN and PE GaN revealed, that a major factor for the defect reduction in the laterally overgrown regions is the change of the dominant growth direction - from vertical in the window regions to lateral in the regions over the mask or over the trenches, and the related threading dislocations lines redistribution. The mechanisms of defect reduction in LEO GaN and PE GaN are similar, although they arise through different process routes, and are related to the free-standing (PE) or quasi-free-standing (LEO) growth of GaN, and the associated stress redistribution. The stress distributions in the LEO and PE GaN heterostructures are calculated and compared with finite element modeling. Another approach for reduction of the defects is the SPER process and the related thermal activation for dislocation reactions and grain boundary mobility and migration. This approach is shown in the example of annealed AlN films.