Reparation and development

Biodiversity

Biodiversity in the Paraopeba River Basin

The recovery of the Paraopeba river and its biodiversity is one of Vale's commitments in the reparation work. Therefore, since the rupture of the B1 dam in Brumadinho, short, medium and long-term measures have been carried out.

On this page, you will learn about monitoring and remediation initiatives aimed at terrestrial and aquatic biodiversity.

Andorinha-de-coleira (Pygochelidon melanoleuca)
Photo: Gabriele Silva

Monitoring

Biodiversity monitoring is carried out on a permanent basis by companies specialized in the area of the environment, biologists, field assistants and veterinarians, with the coordination of university professors. In all, 35 points are studied for aquatic biodiversity and 20 areas for terrestrial biodiversity, which cover regions not affected, areas affected in lesser intensity and areas severely affected by tailings.

The fauna and flora in some marginal lakes and in the main tributaries of the Paraopeba river are also analysed.

By expanding monitoring to unaffected locations, it is possible to assess the environmental conditions and the real impact of the disruption on biodiversity.

It is based on these constant analyses that we understand the impacts and can understand the best actions to be taken in favour of the local flora and fauna

Watch the video below to find out how monitoring is done

Stay on top of our initiatives in the region



Andorinha-de-coleira (Pygochelidon melanoleuca)
Photo: Ailton Junior

Genetic conservation technology enables the recovery of plant species in Brumadinho

The vegetation impacted by the rupture of Dam B1 is receiving an important contribution from technology to promote its recovery. An innovative technique developed by researchers of the Federal University of Viçosa (Universidade Federal de Viçosa - UFV), capable of rescuing DNA and creating copies of plants in the region, has begun to be applied for forest rehabilitation in the area. Seedlings, which could take more than eight years to flower, start this process between six and twelve months, which will effectively contribute to accelerate the recovery of biodiversity in the region.

Keep reading




Explore the studied area


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Homem agachado em meio à vegetação do entorno do Rio Paraopeba segura um peixe com as mãos
Photo: Vale Archive

Aquatic Biodiversity

Currently, the study area of aquatic communities on the Paraopeba river ranges from the Salto do Paraopeba Small Hydroelectric Plant, in Jeceaba, to beyond the Três Marias dam.

After studies by experts from government institutions, 35 points were selected for aquatic monitoring, in affected and unaffected areas.

What is monitored?

In the river, we monitor fish, aquatic insects and microscopic plant and animal organisms, known as plankton, using the following methods:

  • Collection of sediment from the bottom with specific equipment, such as a dredger;
  • Manual collection of rocks and leaves that are at the bottom;
  • Trawl for plankton collection;
  • Collection of aquatic plants, the so-called “macrophytes”;
  • Collecting fish with nets, nets and other equipment.
Mulher com rede de pesca
Photo: Vale Archive

The reparation so far

At the end of December 2019, Vale started the Aquatic Biodiversity Monitoring Program, following the guidelines presented by the Minas Gerais State Forestry Institute (IEF).

The reparation so far

In 2020, tailings were removed at the mouth of the Ferro Carvão stream’s estuary, from the Alberto Flores Bridge to the confluence of the Ferro Carvão stream’s estuary with the Paraopeba river. The stabilization of the banks of the creek and the reconstitution of its gutter was also carried out;

Pesquisador segurando um peixe
Photo: Vale Archive

Fish

To study the species, samples are collected using cast nets, nets, trawls and sieves. After collection, the fish are processed, tagged, have their biometric data recorded and are studied in laboratories.

Fish from the Paraopeba river basin are also monitored during piracema, when they reproduce. In this way, when schools swim against the current to release eggs, between the months of November and February, they are monitored in order to detect possible changes in fish reproduction.



Analytics What types of analyses are performed?
  • Histopathological analysis – Procedure performed to assess possible diseases or damage to fish due to exposure to waste arising from the break.
  • Helmintofauna Assessment – This procedure assesses the presence of parasites as bioindicators for monitoring environmental impact.
  • Bioaccumulation of metals – Procedure in which animals undergo identification, biometrics and removal of muscle and liver, to verify the presence of metals such as aluminium, copper, iron, lead, zinc, among others. That is, we check whether there are high concentrations of a particular chemical in organisms at the highest level of the food chain;
  • Toxicology and genotoxicity in fish and aquatic invertebrates – scientific studies that analyse the effects of chemical substances on organisms and their ability to induce alterations in the genetic material of animals that have been exposed to them.

Important

On February 28, 2019, fishing for native species was prohibited in the Paraopeba river basin, by Ordinance No. 16 issued by the State Forestry Institute (Instituto Estadual de Florestas – IEF), and this continues until the publication of a new Ordinance.

Frasco de água com colonias de planctons
Photo: Vale Archive

Planktonic communities

The technical team also studies planktonic communities (formed by different microorganisms), which have some important bioindicators. These bioindicators are sensitive to pollution and help us to verify that the physical, chemical and biological parameters of the river water are adequate. The collections of these microorganisms are carried out with plankton nets and the analyses are carried out in the laboratory, using a microscope.

What are the studied bioindicators?

Aquatic biota of the Ferro-Carvão stream basin

As part of the monitoring, we follow the aquatic biota , that is, the set of aquatic living beings, from the Ferro-Carvão stream basin. For this, we studied different groups of animals, including aquatic invertebrates and fish.

For the collection of fish samples, 10 points were defined in the tributaries of the stream. For the collection of aquatic invertebrates, three streams from the Ferro-Carvão basin and other watercourses in nearby basins with similar hydrological characteristics are sampled. This monitoring seeks to assess the possible loss of interaction, also called loss of ichthyofauna connectivity, between the species existing in the Ferro-Carvão basin. Delete 'what do we evaluate?'

Pesquisadores com redes de pesca
Photo: Vale Archive

Terrestrial biodiversity

In the forest areas of the Ferro-Carvão river basin and surrounding areas, and on the banks of the Paraopeba river, the technical teams analyse the cycle of nutrients in nature, the composition and structure of the vegetation and various animal species (selected as bioindicators) present there. The main study methods used are:

Seta

Hover the mouse and get to know the main study methods used

Seta

Click to know the main study methods used

Survey and monitoring of populations of chinstrap tortoise(Phrynopsgeoffroanus),capybara (Hydrochoerus hydrochaeris), and endangered species : tern (Pygochelidonmelanoleuca), riverside butterfly (Parides burchellanus) and otter (Lontra longicaudis);

Sampling of terrestrial invertebrates (through specific methodologies for each study group);

Opening of trails and transects with the installation of pitfall traps for sampling amphibians and Squamata reptiles and small non-flying mammals;

Installation of live capture traps for sampling small non-flying mammals, mist nets for sampling bats and sampling points for birds from the interior of the forest;

Marking and sampling of botanical plots for monitoring phytosociological parameters (i.e., the study of the plant community, its floristic composition and vegetation structure);

Collection of blood and fur from wild animals for laboratory studies.

A The reparation so far

More than 500 thousand meters of fence were placed in the Permanent Preservation Areas of the Paraopeba river basin, an important measure to guarantee the growth of the vegetation present in spaces close to water courses;

A The reparation so far

Use of bioengineering techniques to reclaim soil and control erosion;

A The reparation so far

More than 129 wild animals carefully returned to nature and in accordance with the appropriate technical and legal procedures;

A The reparation so far

More than 200 professionals, including biologists, veterinarians, environmental engineers and field assistants dedicated to the rescue of animals, care and preparation for reintegration into nature;

A The reparation so far

Execution of the revegetation project at Ground Zero , which will plant 4,000 seedlings of tree species native to the region;

A The reparation so far

Around 1,500 domestic and 200 wild animals have passed through and were taken care of at the Fauna Shelter Farm in Brumadinho, by the end of June 2021.

Pets
Wildlife

Pets

Pets were also impacted by the B1 dam failure. Dogs, cats and farm animals were rescued from the affected areas, in community homes or left by voluntary donation. In addition to the shelter, our technical team provides all the necessary care and animals that do not have a guardian are available for adoption.

Get to know them and learn how to adopt them

Cachorro levantando a pata
Photo: Vale Archive

Wildlife

Wild animals - such as birds, snakes, tortoises, opossums, among others - found in the areas of emergency works are captured and clinically evaluated. The rescue and rescue actions are carried out respecting all protocols and measures of capture and containment, according to the fauna group to which it belongs (amphibians, reptiles, birds or mammals). All procedures aim to ensure the animal's well-being and safety, always seeking the best destination for each individual. If they are in good condition, they are immediately released into their natural habitat . If they need veterinary treatment that requires a period of hospital stay, they are sent to the Fauna Shelter Farm, in Brumadinho/MG, where they are housed in roomy environments that respect the specificities of their biology and ecology.

Aves
Photo: Vale Archive

These animals are monitored by specialists who perform various procedures: laboratory tests, balanced nutrition to aid in physical and behavioural recovery, muscle training, among others. They can also be sent to the Wild Fauna Rehabilitation and Reintroduction Program, where tests and training are carried out for the development of abilities and skills for survival in a natural environment.

Once rehabilitated, animals in good condition are reintegrated into their natural environment. Those who do not have the capacity for rehabilitation or release are referred to an institution that is capable of maintaining their physical and psychological well-being throughout their life in captivity, such as a breeding, maintenance or zoo. All these actions are in compliance with current environmental standards and are authorized by the environmental agency.

Exotic wild animals

Exotic wild animals rescued or captured undergo the same veterinary care, however, they are not reintroduced into the wild. After the treatment has been carried out, Vale decides with the environmental agency which is the best destination for the exotic animal.


Lago
Photo: Vale Archive

Botanical Monitoring

In order to assess whether there was an impact on vegetation beyond the area directly affected by the tailings, botanical studies are carried out to monitor, among other things, possible changes in the structure of the vegetation and in the diversity of species.

For this monitoring, plots are marked on plots installed in forested areas close to the tailings patch and also in areas far from the tailings for comparison purposes. These locations are monitored over time to verify whether the proximity to the tailings will generate any long-term impact and, if so, what are the best mitigation measures.

Rescue of plant species

The impacted vegetation is receiving a contribution from technology for its recovery. A technique developed by researchers at the Federal University of Viçosa (Universidade Federal de Viçosa – UFV)”, capable of rescuing DNA and creating copies of plants in the region, has begun to be applied for forest rehabilitation in the area. Trees that could take more than eight years to flower should start this process between six and 12 months, which will help to accelerate the recovery of biodiversity in the region. Genetic material has already been collected from five pre-selected species, including endangered species such as Stephanopodium engleri, braúna (Melanoxylonbrauna) and caviúna (Dalbergianigra)and protected by law, such as the yellow ipe (Handroanthus serratifolius). Part of the seedlings produced from the recovered material were planted in the impacted area in the first months of 2021.

Pesquisador segurando planta
Photo: Vale Archive

Revegetation - Ground Zero Project

In December 2020, Vale completed the first stage of the Ground Zero project, which involved forest restoration work such as: seed collection, seedling production, acclimatization and planting in areas to be recovered at the mouth of the Ferro-Carvão stream's estuary. Other ecological restoration techniques used were nucleation (which forms favourable microhabitats to attract species and accelerate the process of succession and local diversity), through the installation of artificial perches and soil transposition; which will also contribute to the recovery process in the medium term. At the end of the restoration work, the Ground Zero area will have around 4,000 seedlings of tree species native to the region.

Photo Gallery


Bando de andorinhas-de-coleira (Pygochelidon melanoleuca). Photo: Afonso Carlos Oliveira
Flock of collared swallows (Pygochelidon melanoleuca). Photo: Afonso Carlos Oliveira.
Phyllomedusa burmeisteri (rã-das-folhas), anfíbio registrado durante monitoramento da biodiversidade. Photo: Hans Thomassen.
Phyllomedusa burmeisteri (leaf frog), an amphibian recorded during biodiversity monitoring. Photo: Hans Thomassen.
Scinax luizotavioi (pererequinha), anfíbio registrado durante monitoramento da biodiversidade. Photo: Hans Thomassen.
Scinax luizotavioi (pererequinha), an amphibian recorded during biodiversity monitoring. Photo: Hans Thomassen
Dendropsophus elegans (perereca-de-moldura), anfíbio registrado durante o monitoramento da biodiversidade. Photo: Hans Thomassen.
Dendropsophus elegans (frame-perereca), an amphibian recorded during biodiversity monitoring. Photo: Hans Thomassen.
Enyalius bilineatusI (camaleãozinho), lagarto registrado durante o monitoramento da biodiversidade. Photo: Hans Thomassen.
Enyalius bilineatusI (little chameleon), lizard recorded during biodiversity monitoring. Photo: Hans Thomassen.
Boana lundii (perereca-de-Lund), anfíbio registrado durante o monitoramento da biodiversidade. Photo: Hans Thomassen.
Boana lundii (Lund's perereca), an amphibian recorded during biodiversity monitoring. Photo: Hans Thomassen.
Pegadas de lontra (Lontra longicaudis). Photo: Ana Yoko Meiga.
Otter footprints (Otter longicaudis). Photo: Ana Yoko Meiga.
Micronycteris megalotis, morcego registrado durante o monitoramento da biodiversidade. Photo: Jeanneson Sales. Micronycteris
Micronycteris megalotis, bat recorded during biodiversity monitoring. Photo: Jeanneson Sales
Artibeus lituratus, morcego registrado durante o monitoramento da biodiversidade. Photo: Jeanneson Sales. Artibeus
Artibeus lituratus, bat recorded during biodiversity monitoring. Photo: Jeanneson Sales.
Cuíca-graciosa (Gracilinanus agilis), capturada e solta após a instalação do brinco de identificação. Photo: Rodolfo Stumpp.
Cuíca-graciosa (Gracilinanus agilis), captured and released after the installation of the identification earring. Photo: Rodolfo Stumpp.
Cágado-de-barbicha (Phrynops geoffroanus), capturado e solto após marcação, para o monitoramento populacional. Photo: Aline Costa.
Bearded tortor (Phrynops geoffroanus), captured and released after marking, for population monitoring. Photo: Aline Costa.
Capivaras (Hydrochoerus hydrochaeris) na margem do rio Paraopeba. Photo: Ana Yoko Meiga.
Capybaras (Hydrochoerus hydrochaeris) on the bank of the Paraopeba river. Photo: Ana Yoko Meiga.

Find out how inspection works

The activities are being carried out in full compliance with legislation and are monitored through meetings, field visits and reports by various public bodies. Depending on the case, one or more of the institutions below are responsible for issuing authorizations. No action is performed without proper authorization or follow-up.

  • State Forestry Institute (Instituto Estadual de Florestas – IEF)
  • Prosecution Office of The State of Minas Gerais (Ministério Público de Minas Gerais – MPMG)
  • Water Management Institute of Minas Gerais (Instituto Mineiro de Gestão de Águas – IGAM)
  • State Environmental Foundation (Fundação Estadual de Meio Ambiente – FEAM)
  • State Department for Environment and Sustainable Development (Secretaria de Estado de Meio Ambiente e Desenvolvimento Sustentável – SEMAD)
  • Brazilian Institute of Environment and Renewable Natural Resources (Instituto Brasileiro do Meio Ambiente e dos Recursos Naturais Renováveis – IBAMA)
  • Chico Mendes Institute for Biodiversity Conservation (Instituto Chico Mendes de Conservação da Biodiversidade – ICMBio)

Meet Vale's partners

In addition to the team of specialists working in the field, we have monitoring and reparation techniques developed by researchers and professors from the following partner institutions:

  • Federal University of Minas Gerais (Universidade Federal de Minas Gerais – UFMG)
  • Federal University of Viçosa (Universidade Federal de Viçosa – UFV)
  • Federal University of Ouro Preto (Universidade Federal de Ouro Preto – UFOP
  • State University of Minas Gerais (Universidade Estadual de Minas Gerais – UEMG)
  • Federal University of Juiz de Fora (Universidade Federal de Juiz de Fora – UFJF)
  • Federal University of Triângulo Mineiro (Universidade Federal do Triângulo Mineiro – UFTM)