July 31, 2013
Environmental Park: 17 years on the trail of sustainability
A veritable ecological sanctuary! That’s the Alumar Environmental Park, which 17 years ago first opened its doors to show people how it’s possible to reconcile economic development, environmental preservation and social responsibility in a harmonious and integrated way. This was a project that was conceived with care for detail and that transformed itself into an environmental reference point for the city of São Luís – the city’s first park.
Alumar began to develop its Park Master Plan in 1992, when it prepared various studies and carried out studies of the local fauna and flora, commissioned an opinion poll with the community, and arranged environmental workshops, all to create a complete project that was in line with the perspectives of the Consortium and the community.
Even a metropolitan park, or one on the other side of the highway were considered, but the proposal to bring together the people and the plant made all the difference: “It was the first park set up in an industrial area. That had a very important significance, because it showed our clear willingness to take society to the areas where we operated”, said Alumar’s director, Nilson Ferraz.
Bringing the community closer and serving as a center of environmental education was a great ideal of the project and an objective that has become reality over the last 17 years. “People not only visited the Park to admire its beauty but also to acquire knowledge. The purpose was always preservation, but we also think about interaction with society. We planned a park where our employees, members of their families and the community would have the opportunity to get to know the flora and local fauna and also have access to information that has a more scientific basis, in addition to taking part in educational projects”, observes the Management System, Environment, Safety and Institutional Relations Manager, Dulcimar Soares. The initial ideas drove the project, which over the years became a benchmark for environmental preservation. Since its inauguration, the Park has already received more than 160,000 visitors, including students, teachers, community groups as well as employees and service providers, accompanied by their families.
In an area covering approximately 1800 ha, comprising mangroves, secondary forest and floodplain forest, with more than 200 botanical species, the Alumar Environmental Park is home to an enormous variety of birds, mammals, reptiles and amphibians., including species threatened with extinction. Among the species found in the Park are sloths, jaguarundis, squirrel monkeys, tufted capuchins, herons and tamanduas.
Two large buildings, with beautiful architectural structures that reconcile the rustic nature of their thatched roofs with windows and attractive gardens with their native plants, have: an auditorium, an amphitheater, an environmental education workshop, and lodgings for researchers, seedling nurseries and a compost area. The Environmental Park has four trails where adults and children who are walking on them may come across animals and enjoy a fantastic stroll through the forest and visit bogs and mangroves.
Teachers, students and the community benefit from the environmental education projects arranged in the Park’s facilities and in schools in São Luís. Among these are environmental workshops, School Vegetable Garden, Paper Plant, a materials reuse workshop and environmental education courses for teachers. In addition to projects, the Park holds events such as its Water, Planting and Environment Weeks, the Vacation Park, Ecological Tourism Day, International Women’s Day, Children’s Week and the Socio-Environmental Circuit. With its natural environment, which integrates the modern plant with conservation and the development of environmental education activities, the Park is a record of the maturity and strength of the relationship of Alumar with Maranhão.
Facts about the Park:
• Park area: 1,800 hectares;
• Average number of visitors/year: 10,000;
• Entry: open to the general public;
• Amount spent setting up the Alumar Environmental Park: US$ 600,000;
• Target public: employees and their families, students, teachers, researchers and society in general.
Alcoa Alumínio S.A. is a subsidiary of Alcoa Inc. which is the world’s leading producer of primary aluminum and fabricated aluminum, as well as the world’s largest miner of bauxite and refiner of alumina. The company employs approximately 61,000 people in 31 countries and for the eleventh consecutive year the company is a member of the Dow Jones Sustainability Index. Alcoa is present in Latin America and the Caribbean where it has operations in Brazil, Jamaica and Suriname and about 7,000 employees. This year, the company completes 125 years of operations in the world.
In Brazil the company operates in the whole of the aluminum production chain, from bauxite mining to the production of transformed products. Alcoa has six production units and three offices in the states of Maranhão, Minas Gerais, Pará, Pernambuco, Santa Catarina, São Paulo and the Federal District. The company also has shareholdings in four hydroelectric power stations: Machadinho and Barra Grande on the border of the states of Santa Catarina and Rio Grande do Sul; Serra do Facão in Goiás; and Estreito, between Maranhão and Tocantins. In 2012, Alcoa recorded revenues of R$ 2,6 billion in Brazil. In the same year it was considered a benchmark in sustainability, being one of the year’s 21 model companies in the Guia EXAME de Sustentabilidade [EXAME Magazine’s Sustainability Guide], besides being recognized as one of the Best Companies to Work for the eleventh consecutive year and Best Company for Women to Work in Brazil, by the Great Place to Work Institute. Further information can be found at www.alcoa.com.br and follow @Alcoa on Twitter at twitter.com/AlcoaBrasil and follow Alcoa on Facebook at facebook.com/AlcoaBrasil