Within the potential of ASMs to make a contribution in the global climatic agenda, reforestation processes are of the utmost importance, which in addition to landscaping, promote ecosystem services restoration because: it implies a progressive recovery of bird, insect, and even small mammal habitats; helps soil condition improvement, promotes micro-climate stability; and also, forest areas are natural sinks of polluting gases such as CO2.
However, in order to best assure the restoration of such ecosystem conditions in degraded areas, there are good practices applied by small miners, which are an example of a better environmental management at ASMs, which are summarized in:
- Reforesting with different species: it prevents plague development. However, sowing must be made keeping proper distance among planted trees or bushes, given that, if two or more subjects are planted too close, they are likely to compete for nutrients, causing a slow or undesired growth. It is also recommended to sow species that reach different sizes at their adult stage to create barriers at different levels.
- Using organic or natural fertilizers such as manure from different sources, compost or crop residues is an environmentally friendly practice and feasible in small mining lands, where fertilizing large areas is not normally required.
- Planting fruit species: over 95% of tropical trees spread their seeds using animals such as birds, bats, and some big mammals as carriers. Even if there is not a totally restored ecological path, birds and bats fly into the reforested place, spreading new seeds and helping soil fertilization. This can be a key measure to ensure sustainability of species planted.
- Controlling exotic and invading species: These species are highly adaptable. Therefore, it is easier for them than for native species to grow in environments with low nutrient concentration. They can develop even more in cases of temperature increase (global warming).
- Making fire gaps: an additional management measure, despite less used, is the implementation of fire gaps, which are plots of 2-3 meters wide (depending of land dimensions and conditions) that seek to isolate and protect sections of reforested areas. Although the possibility of a forest fire in the zone may not be significant, it is an important factor given that these measures must also be aimed to climate change adaptation, foreseeing an eventual increase in average temperature of the zone in a medium term.
It should be clarified that these good practices are not only aimed to the forest component, and that they are complemented with the proper measures for management of impact on the different natural resources, given that air and water alteration, among others, may have a direct effect on ecosystems.
In the Alliance for Responsible Mining Foundation, we believe in the potential of the artisanal and small scale mining sector to be more than a means of living, an activity compatible with ecosystems, which is why we accompany men and women miners in the development of these good practices, reinforcing their knowledge in conservation and encouraging proper environmental management in their operations, thus making a contribution to the global climatic agenda and the sustainable development of their projects.
La fauna silvestre en un clima cambiante, FAO, 2013, http://www.fao.org/3/i2498s/i2498s.pdf