More than half a million native jarrah forest plants were planted by Alcoa at its Huntly and Willowdale mines in 2021 as the company continues its mission of rehabilitation. Alcoa said 550,000 native jarrah forest plants were planted at the site last year and its goal since 2001 had been to ensure every type of plant species that existed before mining was returned to rehabilitated sites within 15 months. Alcoa mine environmental manager Luke Gossage said the “world-leading” results achieved could be traced back to when Alcoa began its rehabilitation program in 1968 and 20 years later switched to planting solely local native jarrah and marri trees instead of dieback-resistant Eastern States eucalypts. He said the move showed local native jarrah would successfully establish and survive even if dieback disease was present. “Because our bauxite mining process moves progressively, our rehabilitation process never stops and it is perpetually evolving and being nuanced,” Mr Gossage said. “Alcoa’s investment in research and development has led to enormous improvements in things like dieback management and preparing the contours of the restored soil to create a healthy bed for seeds to grow.” Mr Gossage said Alcoa’s 2021 season included planting more than 490,000 hard-to-grow species and the spreading of more than 1.5 tonnes of seed. The surrounding jarrah forest was Alcoa’s reference against which rehabilitation efforts were compared. “Our ongoing monitoring indicates the biodiversity of Alcoa’s rehabilitation is similar to that of the surrounding unmined forest,” he said. “It is inspiring to see the return of animals and insects to a newly restored forest and we are very proud of the fact that self-sustaining jarrah forests now thrive in areas where Alcoa once mined. “These efforts have made WA the global focus for leading mining rehabilitation.” Each year, about 600 hectares of forest are cleared, mined and progressively rehabilitated. Alcoa said it did not mine in gazetted national parks, nature conservation reserves, old-growth forests or other areas of high conservation value.