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2009 Case Study: Ecological Restoration World Conference focuses on Alcoa

Alcoa’s world class forest restoration record was a key focus at a world conference hosted by the Society for Ecological Restoration International (SERI), held in Perth in August 2009.

SERI is involved in all aspects of restoring natural ecosystems after disturbances including mining.  The Society also publishes the peer
reviewed scientific journal ‘Restoration Ecology’ in which Alcoa’s bauxite mine rehabilitation featured as a complete special issue in December 2007.
The conference, which had a theme of ‘Making Change in a Changing World’, was attended by 700 delegates from all corners of the world.

With the South-West of WA renowned as one of the world’s biodiversity hotspots, the State provided an ideal backdrop for the national and international audience.  It was the first time the conference was held in the southern hemisphere.  A visit, two years prior, to Alcoa in WA by one of the US-based executives of the Society is understood to have been instrumental in Perth winning the bid for the conference.

More than 120 delegates toured Alcoa’s Huntly mine and Marrinup Nursery operations as part of the conference.   The feedback from delegates was very positive and supportive, with many saying they had never seen such a high level of environmental management and restoration achievement by a mining company.

The Managing Editor of Restoration Ecology, Professor Richard Hobbs, toured Alcoa’s mining and restoration activities. “It is very rewarding bringing international visitors to see the rehabilitation process at Alcoa because they are shown the development from the freshly mined pit, through to the oldest pits, and they get excellent in-depth analysis from Alcoa scientists.

“They leave with a strong perception that the Alcoa rehabilitation operation is certainly amongst the best in the world,” he said.