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Matthew

Matthew Baida

Year of Award: 2012 Award State: South Australia Environment > Land
To study structural transformation in post-mining landscapes and its impact on communities - UK, Germany, South Africa, USA
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The premise of this report is the formation of knowledge on seven key themes considered crucial to the success and failure of post-mining areas, with a view to determining how best landscape architects can contribute to mine closure planning and reclamation processes. The seven key themes and research investigations explored are; where mine closure thinking is today, changing mindsets within the mining industry, regional transformation of post-mined landscapes, community perceptions of altered terrain, new approaches to building local economic strategies, methods of community engagement, and the role of the landscape architect in the mining industry

Through my investigative travels I have had the opportunity to visit Germany, South Africa and United Kingdom to explore the aforementioned themes. Through interviews, lectures, literature reviews, site visits and analysis and conferences I have met and gained knowledge from many amazing people including; landscape architects, architects, artists, community groups, mine closure practitioners, social and economical innovation reform organisations, local governments, mining companies, historians, environmental and social consultants and university lecturers and researches.

Post-mined landscapes reflect cultural values and ‘raise ethical, philosophical and physical questions’ (Berger 2002 p.7). The expertise required to respond to the vast number of questions asked of altered landscapes today cannot be found within the mining industry nor answered by one profession. To meet society’s social and environmental expectations today, new knowledge, thinking and skills are required to deliver reclamation outcomes considerate of more than solely scientific and engineering solutions. It is for this reason as Dempsey et al. (1979) suggests, if mining companies are to demonstrate seriously their commitment to quality landscape planning and closure outcomes the involvement of landscape architects from the initial stages of  planning, through development and into the operational years of mining is required. Landscape architects as ‘Generalist’ are well equipped to deliver creative and innovative post-mining legacies for local communities. Their skill set and knowledge base also positions them to facilitate a genuine balance between the environmental, local social needs, economic interest and political pressures.  However, while landscape architects can contribute to successful post- mined legacies for real transformation to occur within the mining industry must shift their focus from short-term profits. Long-term outcomes must become the focus that go beyond  compliance and that considers environmental and social aspects as important as economics.

For this to become a reality mining companies require a major rethink towards their business model, company values and approach to leadership.

It is evident landscape architects have a critical role to play within the mining industry and there appears to be an apparent overlapping of reclamation goals and landscape architectural knowledge and skills. Due to this fact the author will build upon the research and findings in this report to ‘investigate the reasoning for this incongruity and demonstrate precisely where and how the Landscape architecture profession fits into the mine closure cycle’ (Baida and Slingerland 2013). Future research will aim to further promote and educate on the benefits of landscape architects in the reclamation field. Conclusions drawn from future research along with the key recommendations for this report will be submitted to several national and international mining and landscape architectural publications and also presented at several national conferences.

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