Alcoa is using a new, natural method for reforestation at its Juruti bauxite mine in Brazil that it says is efficient, cost effective and sustainable. The technique is based on the theory of nucleation, where small dense nuclei of plants and animals facilitate the arrival of other species. At Juruti, birds and other elements of nature are helping recover the soil rather than traditional reforestation, which works the soil and then plant saplings.“The nucleation method restores the environment in a short amount of time, leading to greater richness in biodiversity,” explains Pedro Pinto, Alcoa Environment, Health and Safety Manager for the Juruti bauxite mine. “It benefits the formation of the soil by keeping the micro-environment more humid. This technique also reduces the need for using machinery, resulting in lower use of diesel oil and emissions,” says Pinto.The natural nucleation approach to reforestation was created by Professor Ademir Reis of Brazil’s Federal University of Santa Catarina. Techniques used include artificial shelters for animals; perches to attract birds and bats, which deposit seeds and help trees to germinate alone; laying out seeds, roots, branches and small tree trunks to stimulate the natural regeneration of species, which attracts animals and creates a food chain in the restoration process; and ecological stepping-stones of small refuges for fauna inside crop plantations.“The nucleation system is cheaper and ecologically more efficient because it makes the worked areas ‘look for’ its sustainability in a spontaneous way,” says Professor Reis.The Juruti bauxite mining area is among the first places in Brazil to use the nucleation method of environmental conservation. Alcoa began using the technique last August on a 70 ha area there. In about two years, the area will have an understory favorable to the introduction of new species, like Brazil nut trees, andiras, trumpet trees, copaibas and others.