Case Studies

These case studies illustrate how Alcoa is acting upon its commitment to sustainable development throughout the world. We are pleased with this progress, but look forward to achieving even more.

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Australia - 2009

Land Management Partnership in Australia Breaks New Ground

 

In an Australian state that has retained less than 1% of its original grassland, an award-winning partnership between Alcoa and Greening Australia is implementing a strategic approach to managing Alcoa land that includes the country’s largest-ever grassland restoration project.

With a name taken from the Aboriginal people’s Wathaurong language, the Moolapio partnership is conserving, enhancing, and restoring the flora and fauna on 500 hectares (1,235 acres) of land adjacent to Alcoa’s Point Henry smelter in the state of Victoria.

Commenced in 2006 with a US$960,000 Alcoa investment, the partnership is in the initial three-year phase of what is anticipated to be a 15-year project. After only 12 months, Moolapio earned the United Nations Association of Australia’s World Environment Day Award for best specific environmental initiative.

The outstanding natural features of the Moolapio site at Point Henry and the long-term commitment by Alcoa are enabling real conservation and landscape change, including ecologically rigorous planning, science-based restoration practice and evaluation, and a diverse approach to community engagement.

“This is a groundbreaking relationship on many levels,” said Anne-Marie McCarthy, Moolapio team leader for Greening Australia, which has been partnering with Alcoa on environmental projects across the country since 1982. “The high level of engagement and support from Alcoa employees—from the operators in the potrooms up through management—has been quite unique. For an industrial firm to invest voluntarily such a large amount of money on an environmental project is pretty groundbreaking. And, the project itself is groundbreaking because the grassland reestablishment we are undertaking has never been done before in terms of the size and methods used.”

The grass ecosystem restoration work is based on an innovative technique developed by Dr. Paul Gibson Roy to replace agricultural farmland with complex systems of indigenous grassland species. The main grassland restoration method being used in the Moolapio project is scraping 10 centimeters (four inches) off the top of the soil and sowing grass seeds into what remains. This method eliminates weed seeds and reduces the amount of chemicals that have to be used for weed control. Around 300 hectares of indigenous grassland will be restored over 15 years.

A concurrent program will improve the condition of the site’s extensive coastal wetlands that provide important habitat for a range of fauna, including migratory birds of international significance. Other major components of the land management strategy include coastal saltmarsh management and community engagement and training. The vision for the area also includes a complex that will become a center for restoration work, scientific research, and community engagement.

Through early 2009, the partnership has achieved the following major accomplishments:

  • Reestablished four hectares (10 acres) of indigenous grassland using locally collected seed;
  • Rehabilitated five hectares (12 acres) of wetland area;
  • Planted more than 25,000 plants and reduced noxious vermin and pest plants over 575 hectares (1,420 acres);
  • Written and implemented a curriculum-based schools program with secondary and primary schools; and
  • Introduced accredited training in conservation and land management to local community members.


The partnership has also gained recognition from local companies that are now requesting similar work be undertaken on their sites based on the results gained at Pt. Henry.