The 338,000 newly planted acacia trees in El Bagre in Antioquia, Colombia, transform 304 hectares of land that previously resembled desert as a result of illegal gold mining. Acacia trees not only bring life back to eroded soils, but they provide an all-year supply of floral nectar for bees that populate apiaries recently established with 114 families in El Bagre.
Not only does apiculture contribute to their incomes—they sold 1.3 tons of honey from their first harvest and expect to raise that number to 6 tons this year—its impact on local ecosystems contrasts strongly with gold mine production that these families previously depended on. The trees also help mitigate climate change and store more than 250 tons of carbon dioxide per hectare.
USAID’s Artisanal Gold Mining Activity worked with local communities, the Colombian government and the private sector in the departments of Antioquia and Chocó to rehabilitate 17,000 hectares of degraded mining land, while simultaneously strengthening livelihoods and contributing to the health of the environment.