In England and Germany there are great experiences from closures of large coal mining districts and all that has meant for the surrounding society including a vicious spiral of unemployment and social misery in an ecologically polluted landscape. But there are ways to break the evil spiral. Friedrich von Bismarck, Senior Mine Closure Expert and former coordinator of Europe's largest mining rehabilitation program in the former East Germany, lectured on this issue.
"The coal mining districts in East Germany were something that can be described as the opposite of environmentally friendly," said Friedrich von Bismarck.
In Germany, at a cost of just over 10 billion EURO, the landscape has been converted into an attractive natural area that people now want to live in. More than 100 million trees has been planted, lakes and streams has been created in the former industrial area. Those who today pay the most for land in the area are hunters who want access to the rich stocks of deer and wild boar. Wolves have also returned to the area for the first time in a hundred years.
What does the conditions look like in Sweden?
But are good examples from Germany and England transferable to Sweden? Here we have large natural areas and few people.
"Yes, we have large land areas and few people in Sweden, but despite that, we also have conflicts about how land is to be used. Mines are available for a certain period of time. They open and utilize a certain field area during operation. The size and location of the area have been accepted by society by means of comparisons made by other land and environmental courts. When the ore has been broken out, the area must be aftertreated so that no hazardous and environmental pollutants leak out. But how the area is going to look, we have not yet thought much about it. What can and should it be used? Can you create something that can give employment after the mine has ceased? The people who worked in the mine often live in communities nearby, and of course they are interested in having an income even after the mine is no longer available. If you have an idea of how the area will look in a future, you can, while the mine is running, ensure that materials are placed correctly right away. For example, if it's a hill in a particular place, you can make sure that it is created while the mine is in operation. Then it's neither expensive nor complicated, and materials do not need to be moved again. It is expensive and difficult. The examples from England showed opportunities for creating sustainable financial solutions for the management and monitoring of old mining areas, as well as how dialogue can be done with affected people. Here can be an inspiration for us in Sweden. The examples from Germany showed how to create something that generates work and income into old mining areas after the mine has ceased. Even this can serve as an inspiration for us, although of course we also often have a drainage to take into account. In these cases, the areas must be adapted to the conditions prevailing for this nutrition. But if we start to think about how the areas will look while the mine is active, we have enough to earn. It applies both economically, socially and culturally", says Sven Knutsson, Professor in Soil Mechanics at Luleå University of Technology.
Invited presenters and inspectors were Euan Hall, Chief Executive, The Land Trust, UK, Peter Whitbread-Abrutat, Owner of Future Terrains, UK, Friedrich von Bismarck, Senior Mine Closure Expert, former coordinator of Europe's largest mine rehabilitation program, Germany, Matt Baida, Landscape Architect LAR MSA, Cedervall Arkitekter AB, Erika Skogsjö, Energy & Sustainability Svemin and Tove Hägglund, Nature Environmentalist Enetjärn Nature.