New research agreement promotes reforestation in Brazil

The Research Council of Norway and the state of Pará in Brazil has agreed on a new research collaboration. The agreement is important for Hydro's research on biodiversity and forest rehabilitation after bauxite mining.

January 15, 2016
Image of Environmental Manager in Hydro and two other Hydro employees
Gizélia Matos, Environmental Manager in Hydro (left), Izabelle Aguiar de Araujo and Jose Haroldo Chav. Photo: Halvor Molland
In 2013, Hydro joined an extensive research collaboration (Biodiversity Research Consortium (BRC)) with the University of Oslo and three Brazilian research institutions to provide a research-based approach to replanting after Hydro's bauxite mining in the state of Pará in Brazil. In connection with a recent BRC seminar in Pará, which Crown Prince Haakon also attended, a new letter of intent on academic collaboration and exchange was signed between Pará and the Research Council of Norway.

Image of Bernt Malme
Bernt Malme. Photo: Hydro

Important for replanting efforts

Hydro's vice president responsible for environmental issues, Bernt Malme, is very pleased that the letter of intent comes just three years after Hydro initiated the BRC research collaboration. This agreement is highly significant according to Malme, who says that Hydro now has an even stronger foundation for doing an excellent job of reforestation.

"Our goal with BRC is to have a scientific basis for the rehabilitation of forests in Paragominas. The signing of a letter of intent for increased joint research between Norway and Brazil means a lot for our efforts. It appears that Brazil has largely halted deforestation in the Amazon. The challenge now is to start replanting and ensure that the interventions we make are restored as quickly as possible and meet a high standard. Research collaboration is part of the solution, and therefore this new agreement is important," says Malme.

Image of Fridtjof F. Unander
Fridtjof F. Unander. Photo: Norges Forskningsråd

Brazil high priority country for research collaboration

Fridtjof F. Unander, division director in the Research Council of Norway, says lessons learned from Hydro's presence in northern Brazil, and BRC, were important inspirations to obtaining the agreement. The Research Council has not previously funded projects in Pará, and beyond BRC, where the University of Oslo is involved, there has been little Norwegian research effort on forest rehabilitation in Brazil.

"I am very pleased that we are now increasing the level of Norwegian-Brazilian research collaboration. Brazil is a priority country for Norwegian bilateral joint research, and investing in environmental and climate related research, particularly regarding forests, is an important part of the collaboration with Brazil. Research on deforestation, carbon storage and reforestation are important both for Brazil and the world," says Fridtjof F. Unander.

Return to the same or higher standard

Alberto Fabrini, executive vice president of Bauxite and Alumina in Hydro, underlines the importance of obtaining in-depth knowledge about reforestation to ensure that bauxite mining has minimum impact on the environment. He points out that if Hydro is to succeed, the company must do more than simply comply with current laws and regulations.

image of Alberto Fabrini on stage
"We need to set new standards and follow best practice" says Alberto Fabrini, executive vice president of Bauxite and Alumina in Hydro. Photo: Nathália Fonseca

"We strongly believe that aluminium is part of the climate solution. But to succeed, we must work hard to reduce the environmental impact throughout the entire value chain, and especially here in Brazil. When we conduct mining activities to extract bauxite, we affect the environment – and we want this impact to be as small as possible. We should not only meet the industry standard. We need to set new standards and follow best practice," says Fabrini.

Image of workers by Paragominas bauxite mine
Paragominas bauxite mine. Photo: Halvor Molland

Hydro's mining operations in Paragominas in Pará State take place in areas where large tracts of rainforest were cleared by farmers who raised cattle there decades ago. As a result, bauxite mining is seldom found in areas with pristine rainforest. It is Hydro's ambition however that the rehabilitated forest in the area will be returned to a standard which is comparable to the original rainforest. For this reason, Hydro has engaged several researchers to map biodiversity in the area.


Updated: September 22, 2016