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Restoration of Forested Lands under Bauxite Mining with Emphasis on Guyana during the First Two Decades of the XXI Century: A Review

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Document pages: 27 pages

Abstract: Mining poses a major environmental threat to tropical forest ecosystems, given its role in long-term forest degradation. Like Suriname, Guyana presents one of the less disturbed forested lands in South America. The local economy is improving, thanks to the development of mining which is primarily focused on gold, diamond, and bauxite. This, however, has resulted in long-term degradation of important forest ecosystems and the pollution of water bodies, and these have given rise to increasing concentrations of sediments. Taking into consideration the afore-mentioned, this review synthesizes, for the first time, literature which describes knowledge-based restoration practices in forested fragmented landscapes at different bauxite mining areas. The principal objective of this endeavor is to learn from case studies that have been carried out in the Neotropics especially in South America, with a view to applying best practices to the Guyana context. It has been found that mining presents a serious challenge for physical, chemical, and biological restoration. Comprehensive knowledge of the ecology of the landscape—structure and configuration, soil type, physical, chemical and biological properties, dispersal mode, and the identification and quantification inventory of plant communities is critically important pinpointed for planning restoration programmes. The process of recovering some of the ecological functions of the pristine forest, through natural regeneration, is vital to supporting biodiversity in overburden dumps and to mitigating environmental impacts. One of these many functions, functional connectivity, can be enhanced to optimize the restoration of forest cover leading to an increase in local biodiversity. Bearing in mind the afore-stated, this review synthesizes passive and active restoration through reforestation with local and exotic species, ecological management of colonization, nucleation practices, and the use of Landscape Ecology models. These have been identified as the most appropriate to follow, given that a spatially driven design can provide much needed knowledge of the restoration reclamation plan for Bauxite Mine Lands. Ecologically sound designs are a catalyst for devising mechanisms which can (help to) reduce environmental impacts. These designs can also help to boost the velocity at which ecological processes operate, in order to increase the resilience of ecosystems and the connectivity between forest patches and continuous pristine forests.

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