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Restoring the tropical rainforest

July 6, 2004, 14:00 CEST

Hydro purchases raw materials for the production of aluminium from a number of sources. The company has ownership interests in two operations in the Amazon region of Brazil: Alunorte and MRN.

Mining activity in the tropical rainforest receives a lot of international attention and presents a special challenge in terms of preserving biodiversity. 

"MRN can be regarded as a reference for what is possible when it comes to rehabilitating areas from which bauxite has been recovered," says Steingrim Bosheim of Hydro's Porsgrunn Research Centre

Bauxite is usually found in a belt several metres below the earth's surface. Successful rehabilitation is therefore conditional on a thorough registration of the species found in the area. Some of this work consists in gathering seeds and letting them germinate and grow, before planting them back once the bauxite has been extracted and the layer of earth replaced.

In working to restore the tropical rainforest it is important to use local types of tree. Each year, several hundred thousand trees are planted to cover areas from which bauxite has been mined. So far, more than 600 different species of tree have been planted.

In order that some types of tree are able to propagate themselves in a natural way, it has been necessary to restore special species of orchids and bees that help the natural cycle.

In this way, biodiversity is achieved more rapidly and it takes less time to attain the goal of a fully restored rainforest.

Hydro has been one of the most active driving forces behind such work.