7.4 Preserving natural forests - Mata Samuel de Paula at Nova Lima
An issue of international concern and debate is the loss of rainforest ecosystems, and their associated biodiversity. Consequently, preserving the Brazilian Atlantic rainforest around its operations is a significant biodiversity issue for the AngloGold Ashanti South American operations. AngloGold Ashanti Mineracão, Cuibá and Corrégo do Sítio are all situated within the state of Minas Gerais, where large tracts of land have been classified as protected Atlantic Forest.
In 1991, the entire Brazilian Atlantic Forest ecosystem was designated a World Biosphere Reserve by UNEP. (These are not to be confused with the Amazonian rainforest much further to the north.) These forests have been decimated over the last century as cities have grown, and large farms, cattle ranches and coffee and sugar plantations have replaced the natural habitat. However, the areas owned by mining companies such as AngloGold Ashanti have been relatively well protected from both illegal mining and hunting.
Conservation of the fragments of the remaining Atlantic Forest, and its associated flora and fauna, is being promoted by Brazilian Atlantic Forest Preservation law (which was promulgated in 2002). In support of these efforts, AngloGold Ashanti has set aside an area of 147 hectares of native forest, much of which is Brazilian Atlantic Forest. This area has been designated as a RPPN (Private Natural Forest Reserve) by the State Forest Institute (IEF).The reserve has been named Mata Samuel de Paula, honouring a man who dedicated more than 30 years to Morro Velho, promoting conservation in the area.
The reserve is integrated with the Harry Oppenheimer Centre for Environmental Education which is located on its border, thus providing constant administrative and surveillance support to the RPPN by the
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A research partnership was signed with the Federal University of Minas Gerais (UFMG) in May 2004, establishing a five-year project to study the fauna and flora of the reserve. This will include a detailed study of water quality of all sources inside the reserve and a complete description of the mammals, birds and reptiles inhabiting the area. Ecology professors Francisco Barbosa and Marcos Callisto of the Biology Department at UFMG are the project co-ordinators and a series of master and doctoral theses are being generated from the project.
During the course of the project, a reserve management guide will be published. This will include the identification of areas of special interest, walking trails, and bird watching areas within the reserve. The document will provide a useful masterplan for use by the reserve managers in the sustainable management and conservation of the reserve.