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Global direct pressures on biodiversity by large-scale metal mining : spatial distribution and implications for conservation

  • Biodiversity loss is widely recognized as a serious global environmental change process. While large-scale metal mining activities do not belong to the top drivers of such change, these operations exert or may intensify pressures on biodiversity by adversely changing habitats, directly and indirectly, at local and regional scales. So far, analyses of global spatial dynamics of mining and its burden on biodiversity focused on the overlap between mines and protected areas or areas of high value for conservation. However, it is less clear how operating metal mines are globally exerting pressure on zones of different biodiversity richness; a similar gap exists for unmined but known mineral deposits. By using vascular plants' diversity as aBiodiversity loss is widely recognized as a serious global environmental change process. While large-scale metal mining activities do not belong to the top drivers of such change, these operations exert or may intensify pressures on biodiversity by adversely changing habitats, directly and indirectly, at local and regional scales. So far, analyses of global spatial dynamics of mining and its burden on biodiversity focused on the overlap between mines and protected areas or areas of high value for conservation. However, it is less clear how operating metal mines are globally exerting pressure on zones of different biodiversity richness; a similar gap exists for unmined but known mineral deposits. By using vascular plants' diversity as a proxy to quantify overall biodiversity, this study provides a first examination of the global spatial distribution of mines and deposits for five key metals across different biodiversity zones. The results indicate that mines and deposits are not randomly distributed, but concentrated within intermediate and high diversity zones, especially bauxite and silver. In contrast, iron, gold, and copper mines and deposits are closer to a more proportional distribution while showing a high concentration in the intermediate biodiversity zone. Considering the five metals together, 63% and 61% of available mines and deposits, respectively, are located in intermediate diversity zones, comprising 52% of the global land terrestrial surface. 23% of mines and 20% of ore deposits are located in areas of high plant diversity, covering 17% of the land. 13% of mines and 19% of deposits are in areas of low plant diversity, comprising 31% of the land surface. Thus, there seems to be potential for opening new mines in areas of low biodiversity in the future.show moreshow less

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Metadaten
Document Type:Peer-Reviewed Article
Author:Diego Ignacio Murguia, Stefan Bringezu, Rüdiger Schaldach
Year of Publication:2016
Language:English
Source Title (English):Journal of environmental management
DOI:https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jenvman.2016.05.040
Volume:180
First Page:409
Last Page:420
Dewey Decimal Classification:600 Technik, Medizin, angewandte Wissenschaften