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Research shows animals returning to reforested areas at Paragominas bauxite mine

A study carried out by a Hydro-supported research consortium identified the presence of the harpy eagle and other endangered birds in reforested areas of Paragominas.

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Photos: Marcos Persio/BRC

Hydro replants forested areas disturbed by mining, and the study by the Brazil-Norway Biodiversity Research Consortium (BRC) brings encouraging results about the presence of birds in reforested areas in the region.

The research, “Diversity of birds in three areas in different states of conservation,” started in 2017, found the return of birds in areas under recovery in Paragominas, where Hydro's bauxite mine is located. So far, 228 species have been found during the research.

The objective of environmental recovery is to re-establish the elements of the ecosystem. After eight years of reforestation, species of birds that feed on seeds, fruits or plant parts were found. Another important indicator is the fact that all species found reproduce at the site.

In the forest areas of Hydro Paragominas, some birds threatened with extinction, such as the “Ararajuba,” or Golden parakeet, have also been found. An excellent indicator of the quality of the remaining forests in the Hydro area is the presence of the “Gavião Real,” or Harpy eagle, which is at the top of the food chain and has already been found in the native forest area near the mine. This indicates that the remaining forests in the area are in a good state of conservation and will be essential for the area's forest recovery process as a source of colonization of bird species.

“We were happy to see that the reforestation work carried out at Hydro Paragominas is on the right track. The Amazon is a complex and unique environment on the planet. It requires greater attention to fully recover and, to help us understand all this complexity, we are counting on the BRC,” says Domingos Campos, Sustainability Director at Hydro in Brazil.

Professor Marcos Persio, who is leading the bird research project, says “Hydro's work has gone beyond simple reforestation. The investment in research allows us to know if the method being used in each location is enabling the mined area to be recovered and the animals that lived in the past to be able to return. That's where the BRC comes in. We don't see this in any other company in the region.”

The next step in the work carried out by the BRC team is monitoring the birds using collars to study their habits and movements. Currently, 10 researchers are working on the bird study.

Reforestation

Almost 2,500 hectares have been reforested in the Paragominas mine region since 2009. In 2020 alone, 206 hectares received seedlings produced in the company's own nursery. About 70% of the reforestation was carried out with the nucleation technique and 30% with traditional planting.

Nucleation consists of the formation of "islands" or vegetation nuclei with species with ecological capacity to significantly improve the environment, facilitating the occupation of this area by other species. The species used in the recovery of the Hydro Paragominas areas are referenced in the inventory made by the company, prior to the extraction of the ore, with approximately 50 species adaptable to the conditions of the region. Among the species planted in 2020 are yellow and purple ipe, Jatobá, Maçaranduba, Monkey Ingá, Monkey Abiú, Mata-Mata, Acorn bean.

Hydro's goal is to recover a ratio of 1:1, that is, for every 1 hectare made available in the year, 1 hectare will be recovered within two years after availability. These numbers take into account the nature of mining cycles, the ongoing efforts for successful reforestation, ecosystem conservation, advances in rehabilitation techniques, and the mine's operational safety.

About Biodiversity Research Consortium

The Biodiversity Research Consortium (BRC) is an innovative partnership initiative by Hydro to invest in research to strengthen conservation strategies for Amazonian fauna and flora, in addition to generating information that supports the improvement of forest recovery processes in bauxite mined areas in Paragominas. The Paragominas mine serves as a large natural laboratory for technical and scientific analyzes developed by the Consortium, which is comprised of the Federal University of Pará (UFPA), the Rural University of Amazon (UFRA), the Emílio Goeldi Museum of Para (MPEG), of the University of Oslo (UiO, Norway) and professionals from Hydro.

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