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2012 Award of Merit - Mitigating MineScapes
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Project Category: Student - Planning and Analysis - Graduate Level

Project Name: Mitigating Minescapes

Student: Jose M. Alvarez - Florida International University

Length of Design Effort & Date of Completion: 8/2011 – 12/2011

Faculty Advisor: Ebru Ozer

Located in the Northeastern region of Dominican Republic, the Samana peninsula is a tropical refuge that breaks the sun, sea, and sand stereotype that characterizes most destinations in the Caribbean. Beneath the mountainous tropical forest that covers the peninsula expands a rich geological compilation of limestone and marble that shape the irregular terrain. Consequently, the mining sector has become a regional source of limestone, aggregates, and marble.

The need for rapid economic growth has led to an alarming 400 km2 (44% of the region) to be conceded for mining exploration and exploitation. As a haven for numerous endemic species of flora and fauna it is critical to implement mitigation and reclamation strategies minimize ecological and environmental impacts of the mining industry. Mitigating Minescapes introduces a series of strategies that engage the mining industry as multi-phase process.

The project strategy aims to establish a variety of proactive program typologies that will guide the mining process and allows the extraction process to be sensitive to environmental and ecological conditions. Moreover, the Minescapes become a source of economic activity for members of adjacent communities, as it establishes industrial tourism venues.

Ultimately, the post-mining phase of these strategies maximizes the use of the land and should yield productive landscapes such as community farms, bio-remediation fields, and community managed eco-tourism establishments. As a means to recycle the reclaimed sites feature unwanted mining machinery and equipment that is allowed to be overtaken by plantings creating an interesting juxtaposition of industry and nature.

Throughout the development of the project a series of topographic studies where carried out to understand the characteristics and behavior of the terrain. By doing so, the planning process is more sensitive and informed, ultimately yielding better mitigation strategies. Moreover, it allowed to create a deployment matrix that delineates which typology is best suited for any current or future mining site in Samana.

Additionally, conceptual models where studied to examine the ongoing metamorphosis of the land as a result of extraction processes. This study found a common language between the resurfacing of the terrain in comparison to the natural processes that mold the regional landscape, a prime example of this would be at el Parque Nacional de Los Haitises.

Due to the transformative nature of the mining industry it is critical that landscape architects are an integral part of the planning process in order to maintain ecological and environmental integrity of any region. It would be naïve to propose complete preservation of the area and make a case against the processes that could harm our environment. However, theses are the same processes that build our homes, schools, and hospitals, therefore it is preferable to become a part of the process in order to minimize its footprint and maximize its outcome and benefits.

Sustainable Approach

Economic: The Minescapes become economic catalysts for the region, generating employment opportunities, productive farmlands, and entrepreneurial stages. The post-mining sites are then embedded into the eco-tourism framework of the region to supplement existing economic infrastructure.

Environmental: The project scope focuses on proactive and ongoing mitigation and remediation strategies that reduce the environmental impact of the mining industry on the landscape. Guidelines & monitoring for natural resource extraction are increased resulting in better stewardship of the regional landscape.


 Precedent Study: Julie Bargman - D.I.R.T. Studio

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MISSION STATEMENT Leading, educating, and participating in the careful stewardship, wise planning, and artful design of our cultural and natural environments.