Forest Smart Mining
A development approach applied to mining activities that recognizes forests’ significance for supporting growth across many sectors, including agriculture, energy, infrastructure, and water. It is sustainable and inclusive in nature, emphasizing that forests are part of a broader landscape and that changes in forest cover affect other land uses as well as the people living in that landscape.
World Bank Group 2016 1
It is estimated that mining accounts for up to 7% of forest loss in developing countries. On top of direct impacts, mining is linked to other activities that can cause rapid and widespread deforestation. For instance, construction of transport infrastructure may open remote forests to other activities such as logging, hunting and agriculture. Mines can incentivize new settlements creating demand for land to build on and grow crops, and firewood. Added to this, large scale mines have considerable energy requirements, which can lead to construction of hydropower dams, oil and gas pipelines, and power lines.
Both mineral resources and forests play a role in addressing poverty. Exploitation of non-renewable resources plays a leading economic role in many countries worldwide, especially in regions with a high proportion of people living in extreme poverty. Poor communities stand to benefit from natural resources revenue, but they often rely on forest resources as well, including for income, energy, and food. Furthermore, the indirect and induced impacts of mining, including the influx of job-seekers, can be especially harmful to the socio-economic and cultural fabric of indigenous and other local communities. A forest-smart approach, which recognizes forests’ significance for sustaining growth across many sectors, seeks to reconcile the benefits of mineral extraction with ecosystem services provided by forests.