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The cooperation agreement with the University of Oslo and the three Brazilian research institutions Federal University of Pará (UFPA), Federal Rural University of the Amazon (UFRA) and Museu Paraense Emílio Goeldi (MPEG) was signed in Belém, Brazil, on Friday.

The collaboration will include research over a wide range of topics.

Research institutions have been gathered with representatives of Hydro at bauxite mines in Paragominas to identify the key issues. The extraction of bauxite takes place in large open pits. The vegetation and soil layers covering the bauxite are removed, then replaced after mining before the area is planted with vegetation to be as close as possible to the original. The goal is that this can happen quickly and with as high quality as possible so that the natural plant and animal life can return.

Clear ambition

"Mining in Paragominas takes place where large areas of rainforest were cleared or impacted by forest and land users decades ago. Our ambition is that the site shall be restored to a standard that is comparable to the original rainforest. If we manage it, we will also be able to get a positive climate effect of mining in the area," said Executive Vice President Johnny Undeli, who is head of Hydro's Bauxite & Alumina business.

"Hydro wants to be knowledge-based and transparent about what we do in biodiversity in Paragominas. The expectations of our shareholders, employees and the community are also high. This collaboration will include helping to increase awareness and knowledge in their own organization around these issues," says Hydro's environmental manager Bernt Malme.

Great potential

The initial phase of the projects will be coordinated by Fridtjof Mehlum, research director at the Natural History Museum, University of Oslo. He sees great potential in this partnership, which is also part of the university's efforts to internationalize research.

"The research institutions in Pará have expertise that complements that of us and Hydro. We have come quite far in efforts to identify projects that can contribute to the quickest possible revegetation after bauxite is extracted. Projects dealing with biodiversity in general, encompass much more and will therefore require more monitoring," he said.

"The researchers see opportunities for improvement in how replanting takes place. Experiments will include sculpting the terrain to ensure better and more natural supply of water, for example have yielded interesting results. It is a method that is a little more elaborate than the traditional, but offers greater opportunities for the natural vegetation develops as you want. In this way, it also contributes to lower costs."

The current project will include monitoring of both plant and animal life and will have a duration of up to 10 years.