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Presentation Oral presentation
Title Mountains, mining, and threatened species – a deadly cocktail for the long-term conservation of a global biodiversity hotspot

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Short title Mining as a major threat to biodiversity

Author(s) Fahr, J.(1); Barnikel, G.(1); García-Márquez, J.R.(2); Hillers, A.(3); Kalko, E.K.V.(1); Penner, J.(4); Schmidt, M.(5); Sommer, J.H.(2); Wegmann, M.(5); Rödel, M.-O.(4)

Presenting author Fahr, Jakob

Institution(s) (1) Institute of Experimental Ecology, Ulm University; (2) Nees Institute for Biodiversity of Plants, University of Bonn; (3) Institute for Biodiversity and Ecosystem Dynamics, University of Amsterdam; (4) Museum of Natural History, Berlin; (5) Department of Remote Sensing, University of Würzburg, German Aerospace Center (DLR), German Remote Sensing Data Center (DFD)

Keywords cross-taxon analysis, land use, extractive industries, protected areas, IUCN Red List

Abstract One of the most dramatic and irreversible forms of land use is open cast mining. Mountainous regions have been globally identified as irreplaceable areas for biodiversity conservation due to their high number of endemic and/or threatened species. In West Africa's rainforest zone, mountains are extremely limited in extent but harbour exceptional biodiversity (both species richness & endemism). We detected a worrying spatial coincidence between these conservation strongholds and areas rich in iron ore and bauxite. Our study on Mt. Nimba and the surrounding forest region shows that the distributions of threatened bat and frog species are highly concordant and overlap with recent mining projects that target these last strongholds of biodiversity. Remote sensing data reveal that almost 50% of Guinea's remaining humid forests are contained within a few weakly protected areas (“Forêts Classées”), which represent a mere 1% of the country's surface. Even international protected areas in this region such as World Heritage Sites and Biosphere Reserves are currently impacted by mining companies in violation of best practices set forth by the mining industry. Based on our data from West Africa, we suggest that there is a worrying spatial coincidence between irreplaceable areas for biodiversity conservation and areas rich in mineral resources. This conflict has been recently exacerbated by a rising demand for mineral resources such as iron ore and bauxite, which is usually extracted by open cast pits. We conclude that the mining community needs to consider conservation aspects within a larger spatial context rather than focusing on local EIAs alone, and that solutions need to be addressed on the highest international level.

Congress Topic Land use, impact and value

Topic No. 3.2
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Ref. No. 525