Biologists race to save fish from Brazil river contaminated by dam collapse

Scientists say the dam collapse could have a generational effect on aquatic life in the Doce river.


Thanks to the work of the Instituto Terra, an ambitious initiative taken in the late 1990s by Lélia Deluiz Wanick Salgado and Sebastião Salgado, which has now been declared a Private Natural Heritage Reserve (PNHR), some 17,000 acres of deforested and badly eroded land in a broad stretch of the Valley of the River Doce have undergone a remarkable metamorphosis. More than four million seedlings of the multiple species native to Brazil’s Atlantic Forest have been raised in the institute’s own nursery. Those plants are now reforesting what was long known as the Salgado family’s Fazenda Bulcão, or Bulcão Farm, and are also contributing to similar environmental restoration programs in surrounding areas. Unfortunately, a pair of dams collapsed at a Brazilian mine owned by two of the world’s biggest iron ore producers earlier this month. Walls of water filled with mining waste cascaded downhill when the dams burst, engulfing a nearby village in a sea of mud and flooding others far removed from the open-pit Samarco mine.

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Scientists say the dam collapse could have a generational effect on aquatic life in the Doce river. The Institute Terra is looking for the collaboration of individuals, companies, governments and other institutions for the development of a projects to rescue the flora and fauna of Doce river.

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