Planning mine restoration through ecosystem services to enhance community engagement and deliver social benefits
School of Science / Centre for Ecosystem Management
Mining companies are expected to return land to a stable, productive, and self‐sustaining condition by rehabilitating degraded areas to also deliver social benefits, an essential dimension of sustainable land management. This research aimed to develop a framework for mine rehabilitation planning based on an integrated analysis of the social‐ecological system provided by the ecosystem services concept to facilitate community engagement and the delivery of social benefits. An Ecosystem Services Assessment for Rehabilitation framework was tested at two bauxite mines undergoing ecological restoration. The mines are operated by the same company in two countries. Key results showed that the framework can help companies, regulators, and community members alike identify whether biophysical restoration efforts translate into key human benefits. Overall the framework provides a means for enhancing community engagement to explicitly address social benefits that, with a business as usual focus on ecological goals, may not be delivered. The ecosystem services concept provides a practical approach to link ecological and social outcomes of mine restoration.