The Misconception of Abandoned Coal Mines as Wastelands

The Remarkable Rejuvenation of Abandoned Coal Mines

Grist writer Katie Myers reports on a review of new and old research showing the surprising rebound of coal strip mines, offering a new vision for these damaged landscapes.

In a Nutshell

In the aftermath of coal mining’s environmental impact, a coalition of scientists and sustainable development advocates in southwestern Virginia has outlined a plan to restore these ravaged landscapes. Despite their initial barren appearance, some former mine sites have already begun to regenerate, with the regrowth of forests and the return of wildlife. This ecological resilience presents an opportunity for sustainable development that prioritizes environmental assessment, transparency, and community input. With increased funding from the Inflation Reduction Act, coalfield states like Virginia can pursue holistic mine land restoration, benefiting both the ecosystem and local communities.

Key Quote

“Some of these sites, especially the older ones, have begun to restore themselves, with forests starting to grow and wildlife returning on their own,” said Wally Smith, a biologist at the University of Virginia’s College at Wise and the team’s leader. “We’re increasingly finding that these are not just ecological voids where nothing is living.”

The Big Picture

Over time, these reclaimed sites have demonstrated the ability to support the regrowth of forests and the return of wildlife, contributing to enhanced biodiversity. Reclamation efforts, including the development of wetlands, help filter out acidic drainage and contaminants, mitigating environmental damage. Sustainable development on these lands, guided by environmental assessment and community involvement, offers the potential to preserve ecosystems while fostering healthier and more resilient communities in regions previously impacted by coal mining.

Read the article at Grist.

For additional context about the benefits of transitioning away from coal mining, read Katherine Webb-Hehn’s insightful piece about post-coal environmental and economic restoration efforts in Germany’s Ruhr Valley.

Read More of this Story at – 2023-10-08 20:18:13

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