Reclaiming Lost Mines for Trees and Wildlife

Today, many hectares of wasteland have been created as a result of open-pit mining, especially in tropical areas. Once a mine has exhausted the commercially valuable minerals, it is often necessary to implement some form of water control in an effort to prevent the abandoned mine from forming a lake. In developed areas it is possible to utilize the abandoned mine as a landfill for the disposal of solid waste. However, in underdeveloped areas where solid waste disposal is not a pressing need and where heavy rainfall can cause serious drainage problems, other measures are needed.

In Columbia, a number of ecologically responsible and affordable reclamation efforts have provided a blueprint for rehabilitating open-mined pits around the world. The process is as simple as bulldozing and reshaping the pit, adding compost and other nutrients and planting Acacia mangium trees. A. mangium is a fast growing species that improves the soil for native tree species. After approximately 10 years, the A. mangium trees are logged and replaced with a diverse set of native tree species. Columbian open-pit mining reclamation projects have rehabilitated lost lands for native tree species and scarce wildlife such as jaguars and sloths. In addition, the efforts have stimulated the local economy and have resulted increased jobs and revenue from timber sales.

Sapwood is dedicated to reforestation efforts from around the world and we applaud the efforts in Columbia to reclaim exhausted open-pit mines. Work such as this should inspire others to find inventive ways to reclaim lost land for one of the earths most valued natural resource, its trees. Join us as we strive to bring attention to the devastating consequences of deforestation. We actively seek out opportunities to partner with like-minded groups that are interested in making a positive impact on the environment by planting trees in areas that have been impacted by tree loss. Toward that end, we promise to plant a tree for every


Thomas, E. Gold rush: Forest devastated by mining is reborn. 2014. Nature 511: 155.


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