World Parks Congress 2014

Mining in Protected Areas and Critical Ecosystems: Managing the environmental impacts of artisanal and small-scale miners and industrial producers

Estelle Levin Ltd. is excited to announce our co-hosting of the upcoming 2014 World Parks Congress discussion 'Mining in Protected Areas and Critical Ecosystems: Managing the environmental impacts of artisanal and small-scale miners and industrial producers'. In partnership with the South Australian Department of Environment, Water and Natural Resources, ELL will consider obstacles to the effective management of mining activities in protected areas and critical ecosystems. This discussion will examine the economic motivations and environmental harms of different production spheres in the mining industry, including the ASM sector and industrial producers, and analyse possible methods for ensuring the integrity of protected areas in the face of actual and potential mining activities.

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Video Interviews on Ape Conservation and Extractive Industries

The Arcus Foundation has published several video interviews on ape conservation and extractive industries to go with the recently published book 'State of the Apes - Extractive Industries and Ape Conservation'. In one of the interviews, ELL director Estelle Levin speaks about artisanal and small-scale mining (ASM) in protected areas and critical ecosystems (PACE) and reflects on the book as a starting point for action. You can watch the video of the interview here:

The book itself, is the first in a biennial series published by Cambridge University Press. It brings together contributions from a range of experts to present an overview of how extractive industries inter-relate and affect the current and future status and welfare of great apes and gibbons. ELL contributed a chapter on ASM , proposing various strategies to mitigate ASM's impacts on ape habitats.A summary can be found here:

Our ASM PACE studies on Gabon, DRC, Liberia and Sierra Leone all feature issues of ASM in great ape habitat.

ASM-PACE DRC Case Study Released

ItombweThis month ASM-PACE released a French Version of its DRC Case Study Report.  It is a field-based scoping study on ASM in the Itombwe Nature Reserve (Reserve Naturelle d’Itombwe or RNI): a critical ecosystem  in South Kivu, DRC.  The RNI is a proposed protected area  which forms a portion of the Itombwe Massif. The Massif is the largest area of uninterrupted forest in the African Great Lakes region, and in Africa as a whole.  Its delimitation is still awaiting final approval by the State.  The aims of this report are to (1) better understand ASM in the RNI by identifying its causes, characteristics and impacts; (2) identify lessons learned from prior efforts -both in the Itombwe Reserve and in other protected areas and critical ecosystems- to address challenges and build on opportunities associated with ASM; (3) identify field-based case study and programme opportunities in support of or partnered with Congolese organizations to address issues on the ground.

ASM-PACE Releases Sierra Leone Case Study Report

ASM SL CoverThis report is a case study containing a situational analysis of artisanal and small-scale mining (ASM) of gold and diamonds in and around the Malema and Nomo areas of Sierra Leone's Gola Rainforest National Park (GRNP).  This report was invited by the GRNP and is also part of the Artisanal and Small Scale Mining in Protected Areas and Critical Ecosystems (ASM-PACE) Programme, led by a partnership between WWF and Estelle Levin Ltd. to support conservation and mining stakeholders manage the issue of ASM in "PACE" locations constructively and sustainably. The project uses a scientific foundation of knowledge, participatory methods and rights-based approaches to work with miners and their communities, rather than in opposition, to design sustainable, win-win solutions.

World Bank Publishes ASM-PACE Programme Country Case Studies Brochure

brochure-coverThe World Bank, through its PROFOR (Programme on Forests) has published a brochure summarising the findings of the ASM-PACE Programme's Country Case studies. ASM-PACE is a multi-partner program that began as a partnership between Estelle Levin Limited and World Wide Fund for Nature (also known as the World Wildlife Fund or WWF) to address the environmental impacts of artisanal and small-scale mining (ASM) in some of the world's most important ecosystems, particularly protected areas and critical ecosystems (PACE).

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ASM-PACE programme in DRC holds a workshop in Kinshasa validating the findings of its July baseline of artisanal and small-scale mining (ASM) in the Itombwe Nature Reserve

The Democratic Republic of Congo is one of the most mineral-rich nations in the world. It is known to have major reserves of a wide range of minerals from uranium and diamonds to tin and gold. It is also home to exceptional biodiversity. Nearly 50 percent of Africa’s forests lie in DRC and an estimated 68 percent of the country’s landmass is forest. DRC is home to 66 million people, of which an estimated 16 percent (approximately 10 million people) derive their livelihoods directly from artisanal and small-scale mining (ASM). Artisanal and small-scale mining brings about environmental impacts. They include massive deforestation and improper management of mining and human waste leading to water and soil pollution as well as a demand for specific plant and animal species for mining inputs, such as tools, food and medicines.  Air and water pollution are also caused by the use of chemicals like mercury, which is fairly profuse amongst gold miners in DRC.

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"Digging Deeper” Roundtables Convene Over 50 stakeholders of Conservation and Mining Sector

In November 2012 the ASM-PACE programme convened a diverse group of over 50 stakeholders including development experts, conservation organisations, ASM specialists, and representatives from the industrial mining sector in Washington D.C. and London, UK hosted by WWF-US and the International Institute for Environment and Development (IIED) respectively. The Roundtable participants reacted to the ASM-PACE programme's body of research conducted thus far, including its Global Solutions Study, the Country-Specific Case Studies (Gabon, Liberia, Madagascar and DRC), Methodological Research Toolkit, and the ASM-PACE programme's key findings to date.

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ASM-PACE Co-Founder, Kirsten Hund, Outlines Critical Issues of ASM

ASM-PACE, through PROFOR and World Bank support, conducted studies in Liberia and Gabon to analyse the impacts of artisanal mining activities on high-value natural landscapes and the people who live nearby. Drawing lessons from the assessment of two national parks, Ndangui in Gabon and Sapo National Park in Liberia, and existing literature on succesful park management, the case studies, the global solutions study and the methodolgical toolkit offer recommendations on how to reconcile socio-economic development based on artisanal mining and preservation of important ecological sites.  The folowing videos provide an outline and the rationale for artisanal mining and also the conclusions of our Liberia and Gabon studies.

Read more: ASM-PACE Co-Founder, Kirsten Hund, Outlines...

Digging Deeper: Two Upcoming ASM-PACE Roundtables in November 2012

The ASM-PACE Programme is organising two upcoming Roundtable Conferences in the United States and in the UK titled "Digging Deeper - Understanding the Incursions of Artisanal and Small-Scale Mining in Protected Areas and Critical Ecosystems", hosted by WWF (World Wildlife Fund) and Estelle Levin Ltd.

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ASM-PACE Global Solutions Study Released

Policy-makers, conservationists and bi-lateral organisations globally now have a new suite of case-study reports and toolkits to help them seek win-win solutions to address the issue of Artisanal and Small-scale Mining (ASM) in Protected Areas and Critical Ecosystems (“PACE”). In the last 18 months the ASM-PACE Programme has conducted ground-breaking analysis of the impact of ASM activities in some of the world’s most important ecosystems – including Liberia, Madagascar and Gabon – proposing practical, workable, and sustainable solutions. The published reports embody the Programme’s cutting-edge research using a scientific foundation of knowledge and participatory methods; providing practical technical assistance whilst balancing environmental concerns with the economic development potential of ASM; creating a long lasting community to foster awareness on ASM-PACE related issues and engaging relevant stakeholders in dialogue to affect durable change.

Read more: ASM-PACE Global Solutions Study Released

Statement from Okapi Conservation Project on mining & poaching in reserve

The ASM-PACE team is saddened by the terrible assault on people and okapi at the Headquarters of the ICCN (Institut Congolais pour la Conservation de la Nature – the Congolese Wildlife Authority) at Epulu (Eastern DRC), the home of the Okapi Faunal Reserve. Details are still emerging, but further information can be found here:

Eastern DRC suffers from constant insecurity. Unfortunately, protected areas are routinely used as gathering places for those who commit violence. Rebel movement near the Itombwe Nature Reserve recently affected ASM-PACE work as well, forcing researchers who were studying the artisanal mining taking place within the Reserve to finish their research prematurely.

The Artisanal and Small-scale Mining in Protected Areas and Critical Ecosystems (ASM-PACE) Programme is a joint programme between Estelle Levin Ltd. and global conservation organisation WWF. ASM-PACE works to find pragmatic solutions to manage resource conflicts between conservation and ASM interests in protected areas to ensure the longer term sustainability of important conservation areas whilst balancing the economic realities and potential of ASM activities. We are currently assisting WWF DRC to develop ‘mining mindful’ conservation strategies for the Itombwe Reserve. More information can be found at

Gradual Reduction of Mercury Use, an Opportunity for Progress in Artisanal and Small-scale Mining (June 2012)

The ASM-PACE Programme welcomes the Alliance for Responsible Mining’s (ARM) call to governments to formalise the ASM sector and introduce a gradual transition towards the use of alternative technologies that will lead to the reduction of mercury use in artisanal gold mining. This communique was issued as commentary on effective processes to implement the UNEP Mercury Treaty.

Read the full ARM communique here.

Mining in a ‘Green Gabon’: ANPN and ASM (May 2012)

Mining in a “Green Gabon”: Gabon Agence National des Parcs Nationaux (ANPN) face the challenge of Artisanal Mining in the country’s National Parks.

The article highlights the continued struggle between national conservation authorities and ASM taking place particularly in protected areas. As the article rightly points out, in some cases the presence of ASM leads to hunting and poaching of protected and endangered species for either subsistence or commercial gain, but in other contexts there is ample reason to question that presumed connection, which reinforces the need for solid research of each context.

ASM-PACE is currently working on a project in Gabon to advise the government and other stakeholders on how to harness ASM as a force for conservation and how to develop the sub-sector in line with the government’s vision for a ‘Green Gabon’.

For more information visit the ANPN website here

NB: the article is in French.

WWF Guianas delivers shocking photo report to government of Suriname: gold mining damage in National Park (March 2012)

ASM-PACE applauds WWF Guianas for raising the issue and documenting a problem that is happening across the globe, yet is not commonly understood. To find workable solutions, we must study the problem and test solutions that find ‘common ground’.

While ASM-PACE is not currently working in Suriname or the Guianas, the ASM-PACE Programme is working in similar protected areas and critical ecosystems around the world where Artisanal and Small-scale Mining (ASM) activities are taking place and at great harm to the environment. The aim of the ASM-PACE programme is to find win-win solutions that address the environmental impacts of ASM whilst building on its economic, social, and empowerment potential in some of the world’s most important ecosystems.

For more information read here.