Green Bridge Competition – Examples of the Best Practices in the Rehabilitation of the Mining Sites in the Czech Republic

One of the key challenges for the mining industry in the Czech Republic is to show to the general public that places with mining history have a wide range of applications and do not become a negative factor in the development of the area. With appropriate regional management, a place previously known and referred to in negative connotations can be transformed into a geologically or biologically interesting site beneficial for the region. In 2006, the Czech Republic Mining Association (Těžební unie ČR) introduced a national competition called “Green Bridge.” Its purpose from the very beginning was to present the best examples of creative and innovative solutions in the area on the mining sites rehabilitation.

Interesting projects that have been introduced in the “Green Bridge” competition from 2006 onward:

Restoration and utilization of the mining site in Čebín – Dálky

Not far from Brno, the center of South Moravia Region, is the village of Čebín, which was known for decades for its large limestone quarry supplying material to a wide area. With the termination of mining activities, a question arose of how to use the mining site located in the region of the municipality. In addition to discussions about controlled succession and technical reclamation as a way to reach sustainability and usability of the site, a possibility of direct use by the local community was debated. On the basis of this impulse, a unique project originated which converted a part of the site into a natural amphitheater with significant potential for use in the form of theatrical and musical performances.

Figure 1: Čebín – Dálky rehabilitation

Use of reclaimed area of the Růženin lom quarry

The Růženin lom quarry, a significant landscape element, is a former pit quarry in which limestone was mined mainly in the first half of the 20th century. The Růženin lom quarry is undoubtedly a model example of the fact that mining activities can have a positive impact on biodiversity of the area. A strong, active spring was discovered in the quarry, and therefore the original plan to restore it by clinker ash landfill was changed. Instead, several water surfaces were created and their immediate surroundings populated by a number of plants and animals linked to water habitats. For example, there is a strong population of rare Epipactis palustris (marsh helleborine), a large population of aquatic insects, several species of fish, and even grass snake in the area. Apart from these, a number of rare thermophilic plant species migrated into the area from the surrounding steppe vegetation. For example, the only vestige of Artemisia pontica (roman wormwood) of the Hády area population can be found here.

Figure 2: Růženin lom rehabilitation

Rehabilitation of a sand pit in Tovačov and a creation of a unique fishing district

Mining of gravel sand has taken place around the village of Tovačov since the 20's of the last century in the places of quaternary sediments of the Morava River. In total, there are four lakes where there is still active extraction of gravel sand. The basis for technical and biological rehabilitation is set on the necessity of its gradual implementation in the individual parts of the lakes. The rehabilitation consists mainly in sloping the lake shores, grassing the slopes, or planting wood plants there. The planting of wood plants takes place also in other areas affected by the excavation, or conditions are created for a spontaneous oecesis of invasive plants. Materials that are originated in the treatment of gravels sand are used for the formation of sand banks and wetlands. Large parts of the lakes are included at present to the locality of European significance in the NATURA 2000 system.

A fishing territory is determined in all the lakes. Due to significant aquiculture interests in the whole territory of the Tovačov lakes, the controlled recreation activities take place mainly in the part of the area of the lake Tovačov IV and Tovačov III (Yacht club activities, sport fishing).

Conclusion

From the above examples, it is evident that both active and former excavation premises in the Czech Republic still need to diversify more types of the rehabilitations performed, providing that they should first of all meet the specific local conditions. Upon the planning of rehabilitations, the mining organizations more and more often unite with the representatives of local organizations or non-profit organizations not to obtain the results of the rehabilitation activities that are "only" technically correct, but mainly to fulfil a specific objective for which the rehabilitation was intended.

From the above examples, it is evident that the rehabilitation works also take place in a close cooperation between the investor – the mining organization – on the one side and architects, representatives of the local community or non-profit organizations on the other side. This is also in the Czech Republic one of the few ways of bridging the mistrust of the mainly non-professional public toward mining activities with respect to concerns about not only the excavation itself, but also the consequences that remain after it. Proactive and responsive approach of mining companies to the problem of further use of the mining areas these days clearly shows the support of the "Corporate Social Responsibility" element of undertaking, which is connected with a modern mining industry. The situation in the Czech Republic also shows that in the countries of the former "communist bloc," the mining industry made a large step forward in the approach to the environment and communication with local communities.

The main challenge is now to further continue in active communication with the local communities, with the aim to define a suitable designation for the exploitation of the mining localities after a full or partial termination of the excavation activities in the mining areas. A significant asset for these possibilities is a support of exchange of the best accessible practices in the form of various information platforms (for instance, the European association Euromines) or contests promoting rehabilitations in compliance with the intentions of the local communities (e.g. the Green Bridge of the Mining union of the Czech Republic).

David Póč
poc@tezebni-unie.cz