Tropical surface gold mining: A review of ecological impacts and restoration strategies
Degradation caused by large-scale gold mining and artisanal small-scale gold mining can cause deforestation, soil degradation, and toxic contamination. Typical restoration strategies may not be sufficient to address the unique conditions of former gold mines. This paper represents the first review analyzing the ecological fate of former tropical gold mines and the restoration techniques available to rehabilitate or reclaim these transformed landscapes. The authors summarized the biophysical effects of surface gold mining, noting the differences between large-scale and artisanal, small-scale gold mining operations. The authors focused on gold mining in this paper, although many of the impacts and restoration options covered by the review apply to surface mines of other minerals in the tropics, like bauxite, copper, and iron.
CONCLUSIONS AND TAKEAWAYS
According to the authors, a careful and adaptive selection of species that can endure in the frequently harsh conditions of former mine sites is necessary for the long-term establishment of self-sustaining vegetation. The authors recommended that, although the ecological impacts of tropical surface gold mining are well documented, there is a need for more field-based experimentation to develop a methodology for restoring mine-degraded landscapes. Additionally, gold mine restoration is unlikely to be successful without the involvement of the local communities.
Tropical surface gold mining: A review of ecological impacts and restoration strategies. Land Degradation & Development. 2022. doi:10.1002/ldr.4430.
- The Forest School, School of the Environment, Yale University, New Haven, Connecticut, USA
- Global Natural Climate Solutions Science Team, The Nature Conservancy, Arlington, Virginia, USA
- Natural Climate Solutions Team, The Nature Conservancy, Arlington, Virginia, USA
- College of Natural Resources, North Carolina State University, Raleigh, North Carolina, USA